by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Many children are afraid of the dark and parents are constantly searching for new ways to lessen that fear, and preferably make it non-existent. Throughout the years, parents have tried and invented many methods for this purpose. However, for some reason, it still remains as one of the many quests of raising children. On my quest to solve this mystery, I tried many things. However, none of the traditional ideas seemed to work. That's when I was forced to use my creative side. I decided that to get rid of the fear of the dark, we would have to teach any children with it that the dark was fun. Hence, the "dark party" was born.
What is a Dark Party?
A dark party is simply a party in the dark. It is a party in which the dark is celebrated by playing games and doing things you would normally do with the lights on. By doing regular everyday things, as well as playing games and having fun, it may help "normalize" the concept of darkness in a child's mind, which could help to take away some of the fears associated with being in the dark. A dark party can last any length of time the children are comfortable with. I find that one hour seems to be the best.
Planning & Organizing the Dark Party
The first step in planning a dark party for your child or children is deciding upon who needs to attend. A child who is afraid of the dark will feel more secure if people he or she feel safe with attend the party. This means the parents and siblings should be there. All children in the family who are afraid of the dark should attend the dark party. Also, if your child has friends who are afraid of the dark, invite those children and their parents to the dark party as well. The dark party should take place when it is dark outside, unless you have a room that will not be affected by the light outside. Have an emergency flashlight on hand in case of an accident or a child getting too scared. That way it will be easier to get to the light if necessary.
Explaining The Dark Party to the Children
Shortly before the dark party begins, you'll want to explain to the children the meaning of the dark party. Explain to them that the lights will go out soon and that there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark. The dark can be fun. Let them know that the party will help them so they won't be afraid of the dark anymore. Be sure they know they will be getting treats and playing games, just like any other party, but it will all be done in the dark.
On To The Dark Party
To hold the dark party, simply play the games listed below and give children treats during the time you wish. Parents and others there for support should participate in the game-playing. Having the light for significant amounts of time might encourage night lights, instead of encouraging the children not to have fear, so be sure that your dark party stays dark, unless someone’s fear of the dark gets too strong. Parents should have any treats within easy reach, possibly inside of a gift bag with handles, so that it can be held on to during the party.
Dark Party Game #1: Dark Charades
This is played like charades, but in the dark. Instead of motions, the players will make sounds. The players cannot speak words, but can make sound effects to hint as to what they are portraying. To play, the first acting player decides what he or she wants to do and gives a small hint in one word to the other players. He or she might say "movie" or "thing". The acting player must then make sounds that will get the players to guess what he or she is portraying. The first player to guess correctly then trades places with the acting player. The game continues as long as the host or guests would like.
Dark Party Game #2: What's My Secret?
For this game, all of the players should be seated in a straight line. The first player tells a secret to the next person and that person whispers it to the next until the secret has been passed to the last person at the end of the line. That person tells the secret out loud. It may be quite different than the original. The original secret teller then tells what was actually said. The end result is often pretty funny. This is similar to the long-played game of “telephone”. The main difference is that this one is played completely in the dark.
Dark Party Game #3: Where Are You?
This is similar to the popular game of Hide N' Seek. The player who is "it" will just stay where he or she is and close the eyes and count to ten. While he or she is counting, the other players will hide. All players should hide in the same room. Players may hide behind objects, but not underneath or inside objects. Once the person who is "it" counts to ten, all players must be hidden. "It" will search for players asking "Where are you?" Once they’re all found, the last person to be found (or the person who cannot be found) is named as the new “it”. Because this game is played in the dark, it will be slightly trickier than the original.
Dark Party Game #4: Silly Stories
This one is simple. Party guests should make up silly stories together. Each person says one sentence at a time until players end the story. This can be done over and over. These can get quite funny. This is a good way to get rid of a fear of the dark, since it gets very fun.
Dark Party Game #5: Guess The Treat
For this game, each guest eats a treat and must guess what they've eaten. Be sure to account for any food allergies beforehand. If anyone is allergic to anything, don't put it in any of the treats, since you will be doing this game in the dark.
Remember that the author is not a medical or psychological professional. This method may not work on all children and it's possible that some won't be open to trying it or might be traumatized by it. The author has had success using this with her children and it is her sincere hope that it can help many other children combat this fear as well. The author is not responsible for any consequences that may arise from attempting this method with children. One should use their own discretion and the advice of a medical/psychological professional when working with a child's fears.
Does your child have a fear of the dark? Have you conquered a fear of the dark with a different method? Have you tried the author's method with either success or failure? Leave your comments and suggestions below.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Crying Baby with Colic? Soothing Sounds Plus Bonus Tips to Comfort a Colicky Baby
by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
"Waa!" "Waa!" "Waa!" "Waa!" - It's 3 o'clock in the morning and the two-month-old is up...again. This is the fourth night in a row. She needs sleep, but can't seem to get there. Neither can the rest of the house. She isn't hungry. Her diaper is fresh. She does not seem to want anything, but to cry. The soothing techniques are simply not working. Parents of babies with colic will recognize an experience all too similar to this.
It can be frustrating to no end when a baby is upset and you feel as if you cannot help. I have been through the experience of dealing with babies with colic several times. Two of my own children had colicky tendencies and I have also been a nanny or babysitter to babies with colic.
I have found many ways to help soothe babies with colic through trial and error, as well as advice from various medical experts. I hope my discoveries and lessons learned can help others in a similar situation.
Soothing Sounds for Babies With Colic: Running Faucet
Laugh all you want. Then, go try it. Sometimes the most unconventional methods are the best ones for babies with colic. Many babies love the sound of running water. Okay, so this one could get costly and wasteful. An easier and more cost-effective way to use this soothing sound for babies with colic is to visit soundsnap.com. There, you will find various faucet sounds and other soothing sounds that babies may enjoy. The sound files are free to listen to and download. Put your music player on the repeat option for the best effect.
Soothing Sounds for Babies With Colic: Soft Native American Music
One of my favorite ways to help soothe babies with colic is playing soothing sounds and music. Most babies with colic love to hear the sound of music or other soft sounds. A fussy or colicky baby will respond the best to softer sounds. Loud or jarring sounds are probably not a good idea for soothing babies with colic.
Because part of our heritage includes a Native American background, along with our vast array of musical tastes, our family enjoys listening to a variety of music sung or played by Native Americans. Here are some of the many Native American songs that I have found to be soothing to babies with colic.
*Dawa (The Cradle Song) - Sacred Spirit
*Cherokee Morning Song - Walela
*Vision Quest (Dreamer) - Airo
*Brave Hearts - Brulé
*Lay-O-Lay Ale Loya (The Counterclockwise Circle Dance) - Sacred Spirit
*Amazing Grace (sung in Cherokee) - Walela
*(I Used To) Ride Like the Wind - Airo
Sacred Spirit, Walela, Brulé, and Airo can be purchased new or used at Amazon.com. If you would like to sample any of these or try them on babies with colic before buying, some can be sampled at Amazon. At the time this content was being written, I was also able to find all of these on YouTube.com using the YouTube search feature. A few more Native American musical artists worth looking up for use on babies with colic include Manantial, Jackie Bird, Enigma, and Oliver Shanti.
Soothing Sounds for Babies With Colic: Traffic
For some babies, the sounds of the traffic flow can be soothing. If you live in the city, you may be able to record your own soothing traffic sounds with ease. If not, you can do a Web search for short clips of traffic noise you can download for free. Simply download the one (or more) of your choice and when you play the file, set your computer's music player to repeat the file or files.
Soothing Sounds for Babies With Colic: Heartbeat
This sound effect can be achieved naturally by allowing baby to hear your heartbeat. However, if you'd like to have a hard copy of a heartbeat, try BabySleepNoise.com. As long as the use is within the terms stated, you can download several comforting noises for free, including a heartbeat.
Soothing Sounds for Babies With Colic: Rainforest
Sometimes natural sounds can do the trick of soothing a baby with colic. Nature sounds CDs can be purchased at most major retailers. However, if you need something fast, you can also try some free nature sounds by searching YouTube or the Web.
Bonus Tips to Soothe & Comfort Babies With Colic
Tummy Rocking -- Lie baby on tummy across your lap, across your knees. Sway the legs back and forth in a rocking motion, taking care to support baby safely. I have found this helpful in relieving some of the gas and upset stomach that babies with colic can experience. Coupled with soothing music, this was always the best way to soothe and comfort babies with colic.
Change Baby’s Diet -- Sometimes eliminating things from baby's diet can ease the stomach. Lactose intolerance or starting baby on juices and solids too early can cause gas and excessive crying that mimics symptoms of colic.
Use Proper Tummy Care Motion -- Do not bounce baby up and down. While this is a common way to soothe a baby, if a baby is colicky or has GERD or acid reflux, this can actually make the symptoms worse. Instead try a slow, gentle rock or rhythmic pats on the baby's back. Babies with colic sometimes need extra care with their stomachs.
Remain Calm -- Sometimes just remaining calm yourself can soothe babies with colic. Babies mimic the emotions of their parents and caregivers. The persistent crying of a colicky baby takes patience on the parent or caregiver's part. If you feel yourself getting stressed, it is okay to lie the baby down in the crib while you take a breather. The baby is better off there than in the arms of a stressed out person. Once you can regain your composure, resume calming the baby.
The Power of Love -- Never underestimate the power of simple love and care. A little bit goes a long way, but a large amount can make all the difference. Through love and care that you can often accidentally stumble upon the most effective methods for soothing babies with colic.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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FLOW-Key Parenting is a proven child and growth-focused method that has been put to use with all seven of my children, as well as with countless kids I've nannied over the years.
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