Nyctophobia: Two Steps To Help Your Child Overcome Their Fear Of The Dark

Winter is on its way, and with it is coming shorter days and longer nights. For those children who suffer from nyctophobia, which is a fear of the dark, winter is the worst time of the year for their fears. Nyctophobia was the reason a young New South Wales boy died in 2012, when the simple act of lighting a candle to ease his fears ultimately led to his death. If nyctophobia has struck your child, you are likely looking for ways to fight back against this phobia. Consider these two ways to help your child look forward to the night, so that they get to a point when darkness no longer frightens them.


To effectively beat nyctophobia, you need to discover where this fear of the dark has come from. Your first step in the voyage of discovery is to obtain counselling services for your child. During meetings with your child, the counsellor will be talking carefully with their patient to try and determine what has triggered the fear. Reasons why this fear has developed include:

  • The onset of imagination. When children reaches the age of three, their mind expands to a point where they start to imagine. While this imagination can spark conversations and dreams that make every parent smile, imagination can also have a dark side. An innocent branch tapping against the window can become the nails of a witch trying to get in, for example.
  • Television shows that a child is intentionally or innocently exposed to can also create a fear. Simple cartoons that include threatening situations can be expanded in a child's mind until they become the bogeyman hiding under the bed.
  • School bullies, tense situations between parents, or sibling rivalry are other emotional times when the fears can develop. Those fears can become stronger at night when a child feels they are at their weakest because they cannot fully see everything that is happening around them.

A well-trained counsellor will be able to connect with your child and determine the root of the problem before deciding on the best course of action for treating it. Continued counselling will be recommended to start with, but this type of phobia is not one that will be expelled overnight. A combination of counselling plus your child growing older can beat nyctophobia before it becomes a deep-rooted fear that lasts until adulthood. There are a number of things that you can do at home to help the situation improve.

Parent Assistance

While regular counselling sessions will help to ease your child's fears, there are a number of things you can do too. These include:

  • Never diminishing the fear that your child is feeling. By telling them that they are being silly you are going to add shame and guilt to the feelings they are already experiencing.
  • Don't put them in a position where they do not have support at night. When they are frightened children run to their parents, so until nyctophobia has been eliminated they should not go on sleepovers at other people's houses.
  • Give them a superhero weapon that they identify with to defend themselves. For example, you might help your child see a favourite blanket to use as an invisibility cape, or provide a foam sword to banish away the monsters. Both of these items seem frivolous to an adult, but in the hands of a child they can help a young mind to conquer mountains.
  • Put a night light in the bedroom, and always replace the bulb if it burns out. Night lights help to push the shadows back into the corners of a room, but more importantly, they allow a child to see that everything is okay the moment that they open their eyes.

Be respectful of your child's fears, and do everything you can to make them see that their world is safe and secure. Nyctophobia can be successfully treated when professional counsellors like Riviera Counselling Service and understanding parents team up to banish the evils in the dark. Once this is done, winter will no longer be the season to be feared.