Fears are especially palpable to children in the dark and this may cause a lot of trouble at bedtime. During these moments, it is essential to be supportive – but the goal in the long run should be to help your toddlers develop the skills and confidence to work their fears out on their own.
Here are a few suggestions to help your kids cope:
- Be sympathetic – but not overprotective
- Listen and then talk – let your toddlers talk out their bad dreams. It’s your job then to assure them that dreams are not real and there is nothing to be scared of
- Don’t prolong the good-nights – this only adds to their anxiety
- Reassure them that you’ll be there when they wake up – and if they have a bad dream, they can come and talk about it
- Help them develop skills – give your toddlers a small lamp to help them sleep or teach them to use a small flash light to learn to use the potty on their own
On the positive side, parents should realize that fear is a sign that their children are gaining a sense of their selves. It is a normal part of their children’s cognitive development, as they learn to deal with the difference between the known and the new and unknown.