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
- 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