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