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4-year-old afraid of the dark

Question:

I need help addressing my 4-year-old’s fear of the dark at bedtime.

Answer:

This is not an unusual fear. We recommend that you establish – if you don’t already have one – a set bedtime routine. It should begin and end at the same time and include the same activities, such as having a snack, brushing teeth, using the toilet, putting on PJs, reading a book, saying prayers and maybe giving a back rub during the prayers to relax her. Be sure to pray that she is safe and not scared as she falls asleep. 

We also encourage you to add a few things to her routine to help her overcome her fear. First, present your daughter with a small spray bottle in which you have put water and a few drops of lemon juice. This is her “monster spray.” She should make one squirt in the areas she thinks the monsters are: behind the door, under the bed, etc. Tell her that the spray keeps monsters away because everyone knows that monsters hate sour things like lemon juice. Then put the bottle away until the following evening at bedtime.  

Second, add a nightlight to the room if there is not one present. A small flashlight in bed may give her additional confidence. 

 

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