Nighttime fears are very common, yet most parents are unaware.
Fear is a feeling of dread, anxiety, or profound worry that is triggered by danger and is often accompanied by the urge to hide, fight, or escape.
Nighttime fears are those that tend to be associated with the night, darkness, or bedtime and after.
Nearly all children experience fear during childhood—including fear of the dark and fear of monsters. Most professionals believe this is related to the developmental stage the child is going through. During this time, the brain is building its ability for imagination, magical thinking and fantasy.
Older children tend to have more realistic nighttime fears, such as fear of intruders,because their brains are developing reality-based thought processes. But just like all child development, the timing of things is not set in stone and there are often transition periods with regression to earlier developmental stages.
In addition to changing over time, nighttime fears can be blended together and are therefore sometimes difficult to specify. Fear of the dark may include fear of the unknown, fear of separation, fear of monsters or ghosts, fear of intruders or fear of injury. They may also be connected to daytime stress, worry, school problems or anxiety-related issues.
Studies have shown that parents are mostly unaware of the presence of their child’s fear, let alone its degree or the amount of associated distress it causes. It’s not the parents’ fault. Very little has been done to educate parents about nighttime fears.
Fear of the dark is among the most frequent fear of those listed by kids. Although nighttime fear is often considered to be a normal part of child development, the effects of persistent nighttime fear are less clear and may not be harmless. At the very least, fear is uncomfortable. Add the relatively common occurrence of bedtime struggles in childhood, and it can make falling asleep a nightly challenge for many youngsters.
Research has shown that younger children are better able to deal with fear if they imagine the feared object in a playful or non-threatening way.
Interestingly, one of the most popular children’s book series of all time (selling 300 million copies worldwide) is the mild to moderately scary ‘Goosebumps’ books by R.L. Stine. It’s as if kids are drawn to things that help them work through this developmental challenge.
Perhaps Walt Disney and Pixar Studios also tapped into this notion with their hugely successful Monsters Inc. and Monsters University movies for kids. And of course there’s Scooby-Doo, which started its comedy-adventure horror animation series in 1969 and is still on TV today.
The Story of The Dark approaches childhood fears in an appropriately playful way— a way backed by research and confirmed by popular demand.
© 2020 by Roger S. Smith
Digital Version: Simply insert "The Story of The Dark, Roger Smith" into the search box in the Apple iBooks Store (by opening the iBooks icon on your Apple device) or at Amazon.com (for the Kindle Fire version).
Print Version: Coming soon to Blurb.com.