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Saving energy

How to fight fears of the dark (and save on your bills)

Leaving the lights on at night could be costing UK parents £260 million a year. Five Bulb members share their top tips to help kids tackle their fears.

Three quarters of parents with children aged between two and ten have children who are afraid of the dark. This is what a study we conducted with 1,000 parents has discovered. As a result, two thirds of parents leave lights and lamps on for an average of four hours a night in a bid to ward off their fears, which adds just under £20 a year to household energy bills. What’s more, nearly three quarters (74%) have left a light on all night for their child at some point in their life. Leaving lights on is also putting a spanner in the works for eco-conscious parents, as it contributes to almost 262,000 extra tonnes of CO2 emitted across the UK a year.

Work with children to overcome their fear 

Being afraid of the dark is a common fear for many children, but there are ways for parents to help that keep bills and carbon emissions low. The best option is to work with them to overcome their fear so that you can switch the lights off completely at night time, saving money, energy and putting your mind at ease. Being with a green energy supplier is also an important step you can take to lower your bills and environmental impact.

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There are many tactics out there to help kids overcome their fear of the dark. Some parents mentioned that simple tips like putting on an audiobook, reading them a bedtime story and keeping the door open have helped their child overcome their fear. Keep reading for some other effective tips we’ve gathered from our members.

Create a good bedtime routine

For Shelly (@misshendyhome) it’s all about adding good rituals to your bedtime routine. A nice warm bath, cuddles, and reading to her family are some of the things that have helped her littles one to know what to expect each night. Her evenings at home prioritise connection and quality time when creating a transition environment before bed. 

Shelly and her family prioritise connection and quality time when creating a transition environment before bed

Play fun games in the dark

When Violet turned 3 and became more aware of her surroundings, she would think there were monsters and ghosts in her room. One of the ways her Mum Lyndsay (@fizzypeaches) helped her tackle her fears, was to help her understand that being in the dark doesn’t have to be scary. 

To do this, they play games and create shadows on the wall at bedtime. This showed Violet that being in the dark can be fun. Remember to also be aware of objects that have the potential to cast scary shadows in the night. Lyndsay removed a large teddy bear from Violet’s room when she noticed this.

At one point it seemed the only option was to leave the light on for Violet, but Lyndsay helped her feel safe at night by tackling her fears

Use a special night light to help them fall asleep  

Ari’s bed is his happy place now. But that wasn’t always the case. His mum Sophia (@sophiaoxbury) used to leave the lights on for Ari all night. But she worried about the impact on the environment. A good alternative Sophia found was a night light with stars that move around the ceiling. Ari will now go straight down in his cot while watching the stars on the ceiling until he slowly drifts off. 

Keep lights off if you need to comfort them in the middle of the night

It’s important to comfort your kids if you’re called out in the middle of the night. But Jade Miller (@the_miller_diaries) avoids reaching for the light when this happens. According to Jade, immediately turning on the light you may be reinforcing that lights mean comfort and safety. 

Talk to them about their fears

Half of parents polled said they didn’t always take their child’s fear of the dark seriously. This could be because they are unsure of how to go about it, with two thirds believing that making lots of fuss over the youngster at bedtime due to this fear can in fact make it worse. But, for Steph Bloom (@ember_bloom), the key is to create a relaxing and safe environment and talk to them about their fears.  “Don’t pass it off as nothing - we’re all afraid of something!”

Have your kids been scared of the dark in the past? How have you helped them overcome this? Share your tips by tagging @bulb on your posts.