Afraid of the Dark

Three nights ago, L decided that he wanted the owl light in his room on to go to bed.  We decided that was ok (mostly not worth the battle that would ensue) and let him have his night-light.  The next night, we put him to bed like normal, but did not turn the owl light on and he did not ask for it.  Minutes after leaving the room, I hear cries of “Mommy! Moooooooooommy!” so of course I go to see what is the matter.  I crouch down by L, rub his back, and ask him what is wrong.  His response is a whimpered, “Dark big scary.  Scary.  Turn owl light on.  Please?”  Now I have a dilemma.  Do I heed his wishes and turn his light on, letting him see that there is nothing scary in his room so he can sleep?  Or do I comfort him and stay with him until he falls asleep in the dark, so he knows that there is nothing to be afraid of?  (Leaving my terrified child alone in the dark is not an option)

This makes me wonder when we are supposed to give in to our child’s fears and when we are supposed to encourage them to overcome them.  L is only 2 years old, so these debates are a little premature, but they are rolling around in my head, none the less.  When do we stop chasing away the scary monster and start teaching our children to chase the monster away themselves?

For now, L will have his owl light on in his room and his Mommy will be there to chase away the monsters.

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