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Why is my son scared of being on his own?

Q: My eight-year-old son has recently started getting scared of being on his own. He has always had trouble sleeping; he gets frightened of the dark, and eventually gets into my bed. But for the last 6-8 months this problem of being scared and hearing noises has got steadily worse. Now I can't even go out of the room because he doesn't want to be left alone. Earlier, I felt that it was just a phase and will pass, but now I am quite concerned as now he comes and stands outside the toilet whilst I am using it just to be sure that he knew where I was.

A:It is possible that the child is undergoing an insecure phase in life. Try to explore if there has been any change in the family or at school. Sometimes, the birth of another child or a family dispute, or even a bully at school or a strict teacher can lead to development of fear and insecurity in a child. Talk to the child about possible reasons for the fear, and also discuss with him the repercussions of such a fear. Explain to him that only he can get over this fear in small steps. As a parent, you should reward any positive attempt by him, and try to ignore any lapses. Above all, do not label him as a scared child, and never ridicule or belittle him. Encourage him to see himself as brave and normal. In case the problem persists, take the help of a school counsellor or a psychologist who will assess the exact nature of the problem and suggest interventions.

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