Good Nights: 4 Sleep Solutions for Your Preschooler's Bedtime

My 3-year-old is afraid of the dark.

child looking under bed

The same creativity that lets your child conjure up pretend friends and elaborate games of pirates can also lead her to think there are monsters under her bed. "It's normal for preschoolers to have these fears because, developmentally, they've realized that people exist even when they can't see them," says Dr. Owens.

Sleep Solution The key to handling your child's night frights is not only to say that everything's okay, but to act as though it is. Start by reinforcing the message that there are no such things as monsters. Go in the closet or look under the bed together to prove there's nothing lurking in the dark spaces. (Avoid using solutions like "monster spray," which may make your child think that the scary guys do indeed exist.) In addition to getting a night-light, you can make the room feel safer by leaving a flashlight on her nightstand or getting a soothing white-noise machine. Before you leave her room, remind her that you're right down the hall and won't let anything happen to her.

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