Our three and a half year old daughter is insisting now, at bedtime, that we leave her light on. The light I'm referring to is a lamp on her night table. She doesn't like the small night-light that plugs into the wall.

We've been giving in (perhaps we shouldn't have) and leaving the light on until she's asleep. Then we sneak in and turn it off before we ourselves go to bed. That was working out well – for a little while.

However, this morning our daughter woke up and complained, loudly!, that the lights were off, and started to whine. I had to go in and turn it back on and then she fell back asleep for a little while longer.

Clearly we're not comfortable with leaving a regular light on all night; I don't think that will promote good sleeping habits later.

How can we get back on track to "lights off & goodnight"? Should we just turn off the light despite her objection and let her cry herself to sleep? Or.. what?

Much thanks for your help!

asked 05 Mar '10, 22:06

Chris%20W.%20Rea's gravatar image

Chris W. Rea
accept rate: 34%

My three year old daughter is doing this too, I think it's a scared of the dark phase and I'm hoping she'll outgrow it.

What I've done is borrow her older brothers tri-light bedside lamp (with a 40 watt bulb in it) for awhile and just leave it on the lowest setting, which is really very dim.

I'm busy looking for compromises or a solution too, 'cause I'd feel like a real jerk (well, actually the word I'd feel like begins with a B) leaving her in the dark to cry when the dark is upsetting her so much, but I don't like leaving a light on all night either.


answered 05 Mar '10, 23:36

Neen's gravatar image

accept rate: 30%

+1 for the dim light, better than total darkness! It is so sad when the cry out of fear of the dark :(

(05 Mar '10, 23:52) Emi

Oh, I know, it doesn't help that I remember being scared of the dark, either! I was lucky and slept with my oldest sister, if I was scared I just had to poke her and she'd roll over say "It's okay baby, I'm here" and cuddle me. She'd also get up and take me to the bathroom or Mom's room. I should go out right now and buy her a present.

(06 Mar '10, 00:02) Neen

We also had the same issue and my husband was also not keen on leaving a lamp on all night.

As I recall we discussed it with her a lot, asking her why she wanted the lamp on. This took some time (a couple of weeks, with several tearful nights) as we tried to coax her into sleeping without the light.It was a basket of mixed reasons,

  1. She was scared of the dark
  2. She wanted to see where she was going if she got out of bed to use the bathroom.
  3. She wanted to be able to walk to our room if she woke up after a bad dream.

Then we negotiated a deal, we leave the light on in the bathroom that is close to her bedroom. The light from here provides just enough light for her to be able to see where she is going in the middle of the night, if she needs the toilet or has had a bad dream and wants to come to our room.

Recently we have started telling her that she has grown up a lot and that she can almost reach the light switch for the bathroom herself, so soon we are hoping that the bathroom light will also no longer need to remain on through out the night.

We have succumbed because our room really is at the other end of the apartment and she does get up to use the toilet occassionaly.

My advice would be to take it step by step, and after understanding her reasons for wanting the light on, you could offer her alternative light solutions if possible.

Good luck, this is not an easy one!


answered 05 Mar '10, 23:48

Emi's gravatar image

accept rate: 19%

edited 05 Mar '10, 23:55

+1 for the bathroom light! It's a lot easier to turn off later without waking them than the room light.

(06 Mar '10, 04:20) Adam Davis

We leave the bathroom light on until we go to bed, and leave the night light on all night.

I get to be the bad guy:

Turn out the bedroom or hallway light, wait a beat, then hear
"It's too dark!"

To which I cheerily respond:

"No, this is too dark!"

And turn off the bathroom light as well. I then give him several seconds for his eyes to adjust to just the night light, and usually do the "like it or lump it" spiel to distract him:

"Now there's light coming in from outside, and there's light from your nightlight. I'm perfectly happy with that, and I'm sure that you can get used to it as well. But if you really want me to, I'll turn the bathroom light on, and leave it on until mommy and I go to bed. But I'm not leaving the room or hall light on. Would you like me to leave the bathroom light on, or off?"

They ask for it to be turned on, I do so, and by this time it seems very bright to them, and so they are satisfied with that. If they do wake up in the night, the night light and outside light are enough for them to make it to the bathroom or our room.

In our particular case it happened with our oldest when he was about five or six. He has a vivid imagination, and can't stop thinking, so even if he's in bed doing nothing it can take him a long time to fall asleep, during which time his imagination gets the better of him. The others are fine with little to no light - they go the sleep pretty quickly.

But forcing them to let their eyes get used to the dark, then providing less light, as well as limiting their choices (but giving them at least one choice) to what we felt was reasonable seemed to do the trick for us.


answered 06 Mar '10, 04:19

Adam%20Davis's gravatar image

Adam Davis
accept rate: 31%


Your oldest sounds a lot like me. I still read myself to sleep everynight to avoid my imagination from running away with me. Unfortunately, leaving a light on outside of my daughters room isn't an option. I have to close her bedroom door or our cats wake her up in the night. (They're in love with the window in her room, and feel it's necessary to comment, loudly, on everyone, and everything they see going on outside, and they completely freak out when our neighbourhood racoon goes by at 2 a.m. on his rounds.)

(06 Mar '10, 17:06) Neen

Otherwise, that is probably exactly what I'd do, it's very similar to what I did with my second oldest when he was about 4 and scared of the dark. (He still has trouble falling asleep too, and reads to quiet his mind.)

(06 Mar '10, 17:09) Neen

Maybe you could try having the lights already off (night light on) in her room when you walk in to put her to sleep so that you are not actually "turning off" the lights.

Maybe you could also practice turning off lights in other rooms at night and talk about how the lights need to take a "rest" too so they can stay bright for the next day.


answered 08 Mar '10, 06:27

Sabrina's gravatar image

accept rate: 21%

That's exactly what i do, i bath them bring them downstairs to put PJ's on, and take them up with bedroom lights off.

(13 Mar '10, 14:08) Phil Seller

We have the same problem with our 7 year old - I turn the light off in her room before i go to bed, yet in the morning she has turned it back on. She thinks it's a game. Last night, I actually turned the light off from the power point, only to wake up and notice she turned the power point back on and the light. When we removed the lamp totally, she simply turned the over head light on. We are running out of ideas .......


answered 03 Jun '10, 11:21

Gemma's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Could you change the bulb in that light to a less bright one?


answered 06 Jun '10, 15:15

Meg%20Stephenson's gravatar image

Meg Stephenson
accept rate: 7%

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Asked: 05 Mar '10, 22:06

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Last updated: 14 May '12, 21:28