Shining a light on the dark side of night
The great thing about fall is that the days get shorter, so kids are outside less and in the safety of their homes. Unfortunately, the downside of shorter days is longer nights – and that means more dark!
There’s a reason our parents used to tell us to come home when the streetlights turned on. It’s because the dark is scary . . . and dangerous!
I don’t need to tell you (but I will) that lots of kids are afraid of the dark. Heck, lots of adults are, too!
Of course, some people will try to reason that there’s nothing there in the dark that’s not there in the light. To them I say, “That’s the problem!!” This world is dangerous enough without turning the lights out.
What to do about the dark?
First of all, who says we need to do anything about it? A good, healthy fear of something keeps one avoiding it. But if you’re one of those parents who thinks they can solve ‘problems’ like this, I suppose trying to make the dark a little less scary could be one way to go, and certain things and activities might even make it fun.
Star gazing: I’m happier watching clouds in broad daylight, but some people seem to enjoy this kind of thing. Grabbing a blanket and heading out to the backyard to look at Orion’s Belt or find the Big Dipper can be a calming activity that’s easily shared by the entire family, so at least there’s the whole ‘safety in numbers’ aspect.
Flashlights: Aside from the obvious eyeball-blasting capabilities, flashlights can be relatively safe and make the dark a lot more palatable. Shadow puppets, tag games, sending signals from one side of the yard to the other are all good distractions from the fact that the lights aren’t on.
Glow-in-the-dark items: Those radiant green and yellow frisbees, skipping ropes, slimes and wands make it so kids can’t wait for the lights to go out. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but it’s a thing.
Reflective items: Wearing a wristband, vest or shoes covered in reflective tape admittedly looks pretty cool under the dark of night, plus when safety feature also incorporates fun and style, that’s a bonus.
Fear of the dark is a normal part of kids’ development, and it’s okay to be nervous about things that go bump in the night. Playing in the dark is one way to shine a light on, and even help diminish, the anxiety that surrounds it. Plus, you’ll have fun the next day as you compare the new bruises that inevitably develop.