Are you afraid of the dark?
Are you still afraid of the dark? If not, you would probably very surprised at how many adults suffer with fear of the dark. Fears are a natural stage of the child development and the fear of the dark is the most common, also among adults, both male and female.
In the dark shadows come alive and can turn into the tremendous monsters which during daytime we manage to keep hidden.
But this fear is not born with us and kids do not experience it until after 2 years. At this age they have already learned a lot about their surroundings and are experiencing autonomy and new abilities with an increasing frequency. At the same time, children are slowly emotionally separating by their mother as a consequent result of their newly conquered independence, but this process can generate anxieties which are expressed by the many fears typical of this age.
Children consider the monsters hidden in the dark as real, because they still cannot separate imagination from reality and therefore we should never underestimate their behaviour and consider it as a mere tantrum or even be very strict forcing them to behave normally thus probably causing the problem to increase and endure for years. There isn't any magic recipe to help your children overcoming their fears, mostly because every child has a different sensitivity and different reactions to the same situation, so that we cannot create a general rule.
Probably the best approach is to reassure them, not turning though into overprotective. Then we should check what they watch in tv which, even though appropriate for their age, can sometimes generate anxiety and stress. Check also their toys because sometimes plush we consider very cute or funny can disturb them. Moreover, toys' shadows in the dark can be extremely scary!
Never try to make fun of their anxiety even though only to minimize the problem, but be positive. Turn on a night light and stay with them a little after they get into bed, until their eyes get used to the low night light. You can make them very happy singing them a lullaby or reading a brief, delicate fairy-tale. Leave the room before they get asleep (if they aren't too scared this will help them build their personality because with your help they will understand they can face their fear...) but leave the night light on the whole night (they have a low power consumption) so that they will not be scared in case they wake up before morning.
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