Afraid of the Dark? — Bedtime Struggles and a Biblical Strategy

Our kids have struggled with bedtime on and off in the past.  We’ve tried lots of things to help the kids cope, such as sticking to a nightly routine, Prudent Baby’s Tape Trick, and A Better Bedtime by a Mom with a Lesson Plan.  Each thing has helped…for a time.

Our latest struggle is that Luke is afraid at night: afraid of the dark, afraid of having nightmares, afraid to sleep alone, just plain afraid.  One of the things I’ve found to help is to read him verses from the Bible about being afraid.  I have just finished putting together our Child Training Bible, so it’s been a great help to just flip through and read him the verses dealing with fear.  We also usually say something in his prayers at night to address his fear.  Still, many nights he continues to be afraid…which makes nights rough for all of us.

Last night, to try something new, I wrote one of the Bible verses on an index card that he could take to bed with him.  We chose (the relevant parts of) Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear…for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you.” (from the English Standard Version)

I wrote the words in print and then used various colors to “highlight” words and phrases because I thought that even though Luke isn’t really a reader yet, that would help him be able to read the verse to himself.  We practiced starting at mid-day with reciting the verse and by bedtime he knew most of it himself.

Luke picked a spot near his bed to “hang” the verse where he could see it, and he went to bed without a fuss for the first night in awhile.  I like to imagine that when he started to feel fearful, he glanced up at the verse and remembered the words which comforted him.  

I’m not expecting this will be the end of our nightly struggles forever, but I wanted to share it because it is another option to try if you, too, have a little one who is afraid at night.  Sometimes, even if something only works for a night, it’s enough to be worth trying.  Trust me, I know!  

I also pray that this will help to remind Luke that God IS always with him, and that this will be another avenue for hiding the scriptures in his heart.  

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear…for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • Good strategy!
    We did something similar for our preschooler who goes through phases of night time fear. I made a sticker canvas to hang in his room with a verse he knew. I know he looks at it.
    I also turned his favorite teddy bear into “Kissin’ Bear”. Every night I do an elaborate kiss routine to plant Mommy’s special kiss on the bear. He snuggles it very tightly and knows that my kiss is right there to keep him company (a la The Kissing Hand book). Kissin’ Bear is very important when we travel or when he stays at his grandparents’ without me. It also helped on his first camping trip with Daddy.
    I’m a new follower… love your blog!

  • Anne says:

    We are struggling with night terrors here, so thankyou for your post, very timely for me 🙂

  • Ana Whitlow says:

    very timely indeed and I just started saying nightly prayers over the boys and it seems to settle them. I love this idea though and it gives me a decorating idea of getting some stencils and put some comforting words and verses on their bedroom walls:) thanks for sharing this:) Ana

  • Sheeri says:

    It also happens with my children too and I got the same strategy through my brother. It really helps.

  • Jeff says:

    excellent! thanks so much!

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