For so many children, going to bed in the dark can be frightening - for months they don't mind going to bed with the lights out and suddenly they develop a fear of darkness, are worried about what's under the bed or nervous of what's lurking in the wardrobe. Here are a few activities to reassure them and lessen the threat of darkness terrors by playing a few games that use a torch to light the way.
Hunt the teddies - Hide a few teddies around the room prior to bed time and turn off the lights. With a torch search for them together and discover their hiding places. You could make it a bit crazy by hiding some things that don't belong in a bedroom. Hide a few wooden spoons from the kitchen or new toilet rolls or plastic food bowls. You could hide some family photos too and see who can be discovered.
Who's under the bed? - Show your little ones that there is nothing under the bed to be scared of. Ask them to choose a couple of favourite teddies to stay under the bed and look after the bed during the night. They could easily report back in the morning that there was nothing to be afraid of. Similarly put a couple of trusty teddies in the wardrobe to stand guard during the night.
Finding things - Another activity for slightly older children would be to find really small things like small pompoms or cotton wool balls. Give them a collecting bucket and tell them they need to find all 12 pompoms that you have hidden. Then try it again but this time in the dark, just using the torch to see.
Sleeping Mummy - Hide yourself in a room and cover with a blanket or toys and see if your little one can find you just using a torch. Pretend to be sleeping when they do discover you. Try to avoid jumping out to startle them though... the aim is to build their confidence rather than scare them!
It seems that just as many children begin to find themselves really mucky by the end of the day: food, paint, sand, mud all over them, that they develop a fear of the bath! Between the age of 1 and 2 it is common to hear of toddlers who cry, scream and refuse to get into their lovely, warm, foaming water despite lots of encouragement. There are various things that might scare children about bathing - even if they cannot necessarily articulate the problem, bear the following in mind.
- They may be fearful of the soap in their eyes when they wash with soap or wash their hair.
- They may not like the sound of the water filling the bath - it may be loud for them.
- They may not like the gurgling water going down the drain at the end of the bath.
- They may be scared of going under water or slipping.
- They may not like the coldness as they undress and when they get out all wet.
Try to reduce the fears by:-
- Not using slippy soap and ensuring you wash faces without soap on the cloth, just water.
- Filling the bath before they come in and emptying it after they have gone.
- Using baby shampoo and concentrate on the back of the head rather than the scalp so to avoid dripping.
- Wrapping them up nice and warmly in a dry towel as soon as they come out.
If they really refuse, don't force them. Try a stand up wash, then progress to a stand-up wash in the bath. Then with a little water and gradually build up the water over a couple of weeks, if that's what it takes.
Make bath time fun with a few toys to play with and calm lighting. Even try getting in yourself! That might be fun!