Q: Is my 7-year-old too old to be scared of the dark? Every night at bedtime, he begs me to leave the light on because he's afraid.
A: "Fear of the dark is one of the most common fears of children," says Stephen W. Garber, Ph.D., a child psychologist based in Atlanta. "And it tends to wax and wane as a child's understanding of the world develops." For example, while a preschooler might be afraid of the dark because he thinks there's a goblin under his bed, a 7-year-old-who understands that goblins don't exist-may be frightened that a burglar will break into the house during the night and harm him in some way.
"Do not belittle your child's fear of the dark or force him to stay in a darkened room just because he's 'too old' to be afraid," adds Dr. Garber. Instead: