Q: This sounds crazy but our otherwise happy and mature 10-year-old is still afraid of the dark! After we go to bed, he gets up and turns his room light back on. What can we do to help him be braver?
A: Your son's fear is quite normal for his age. In fact, when researchers interview 10- to 14-year-olds, most mention "the dark" as No. 1 or 2 on the list of things they are afraid of. The other top contenders are animals, being left alone, crowds and high places. We urge you to think back to your own childhood. Can you remember lying in bed afraid as a child?
Chiding your son will not make his fear go away. In fact, it may have the opposite effect of increasing his discomfort and worry. At the very least, he is likely to be ashamed and may be less likely to share his feelings with you in the future.