HOW TO REDUCE FEAR OF DARKNESS IN CHILDREN

THREE SOURCES OF NIGHT FEARS IN CHILDREN

  • SENSE OF SECURITY: Children actually fear death, separation, and abuse. They will have the following thoughts: “Someone will kidnap me!”; “I will die!”; “There is a stranger in the room!”; or “Are the parents still at home?”
  • IMAGINARY CREATURES: Children actually fear imaginary creatures and believe that monsters, ghosts, space creatures, or dangerous animals are hiding in their room.
  • INHERENT CHARACTERISTICS OF DARKNESS: Children actually fear shadows or unknown sounds that are typical of darkness.

PLAY-FOCUSED TECHNIQUES TO REDUCE NEGATIVE FEELINGS ABOUT THE NIGHT

INTRODUCING THE CHILD TO THE WONDERS OF THE NIGHT:

  • counting stars/naming stars
  • identifying animal by their sounds
  • introducing the child to nocturnal animals
  • expanding the child’s perspective with astronomy
  • making a wish on a shooting star

INTRODUCING NIGHT GAMES

  • camping
  • making hand shadows
  • test of courage: for example asking the child to go pick up a toy in a dark room. Don’t forget to reward the child every step of the way!
  • hiking in a dark forest
  • chasing the moon

INTRODUCING A NIGHT ROUTINE

  • leaving dim light sources in the room: for example, light on in the hallway, small night lights, phosphorescent toy figures, etc…
  • making sure there is total silence in the room, no white noise
  • always give the child a cuddle before going to bed
  • make fun of creatures that the child might be afraid of by attributing funny characteristics to them. For example a smelly monster, or a naked ghost.
  • practicing relaxation exercises before bedtime.
  • sharing a secret mantra imbued with magical power

Source:

Csonka, Sándor. (2021). Why be afraid of the night? – Pedagogical methods for developing positive attitudes towards natural darkness in order to reduce light pollution. Journal of Applied Technical and Educational Sciences; Budapest Vol. 11, Iss. 2,  (2021): 18-35. DOI:10.24368/jates.v11I2.222


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