Reducing the Nighttime Fears of Young Children Through a Brief Parent-Delivered Treatment-Effectiveness of the Hungarian Version of Uncle Lightfoot

Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 2022 Apr;53(2):256-267. doi: 10.1007/s10578-020-01103-4. Epub 2021 Jan 23.


The aims of the present study were to evaluate the efficacy of a brief intervention, and to determine for whom the treatment works. 73 children between 3 and 8 years of age with significant nighttime fears were enrolled in an intervention group (n = 36) or in a waitlist group (n = 37). The intervention involved a 5-week parent delivered therapy. Assessments took place at baseline, post-treatment, and 20 weeks following baseline. In the intervention group, compared with the waitlist group, nighttime-related fears and phobic symptoms decreased more, whereas adaptive nighttime behavior increased to a greater extent. The more time children spent with exposure and relaxation games during the intervention, the more their separation anxiety and maladaptive nighttime behavior were reduced. Girls' fear of darkness was reduced to a greater extent. The present study provides support for the use of parent-delivered therapy in the treatment of childhood nighttime fears.

Keywords: Anxiety; Bibliotherapy; Intervention; Nighttime fears; Parent-delivered therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Crisis Intervention*
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hungary
  • Parents
  • Phobic Disorders

Supplementary concepts

  • Nyctophobia