Bedtime is the bane of many parents' lives and darker evenings don't necessarily make it any easier, especially if your children find nighttime a bit scary. Some children worry simply because they're suddenly on their own and in the dark.
Well, there's an event coming up that just might help - the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival, also known as the Moon Festival. This year it falls on Sunday the 27th September and celebrates - you guessed it - the moon.
I've used this 3000 year-old tradition to get children relaxed and interested about nighttime, both at school and at home.
On the 27 September, the moon will be at its roundest and brightest and thousands of Chinese people the world over will gather together to give thanks and pray for good fortune, eat Mooncakes - a sweet, dense pastry treat - and hang, light and release lanterns.
Incorporating wonderful myths such as Chang'e Flying To The Moon and Jade Rabbit, there are sweet stories that are told to bring the occasion to life for children and there is no better time to get out the telescopes and lanterns.
But before it gets dark, it's an idea to use the familiarity of daytime to talk about night and the wonders it holds.
Share the Scary Stuff
Asking children to talk about nighttime worries during the day can help them to rationalise their fears and disperse them. Reassuring kids about where you are and how to find a light if they need it will help settle them ahead of the evening.
Reinforce comforting messages several times over a sustained period of time - this is about changing memory and mindset and needs to be done repeatedly. Include phrases such as, 'safe and sound', and 'snug as a bug' to help children feel comforted and at ease.
Chang'e and Jade Rabbit
The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival has many myths attached to it but two in particular incorporate people and animals in the moon. The tale of Chang'e Flying To The Moon and Jade Rabbit are two wonderful examples.
On the 27 September, why not tell the stories and then pull out a telescope and ask children to spot their shapes in the full moon. The Man in the Moon is up there somewhere too. Can your kids make them out?
Don't Forget the Stars!
The Milky Way is incredibly beautiful and once they get the hang of it, your little ones will find the constellations fascinating. There are also some fabulous apps, which can help you pinpoint the different constellations and planets together at nighttime. Going outside in pajamas to do this is even more exciting!
Identify constellations like Little Bear, Big Bear, The Plough and Orion. If your kids are old enough, encourage them to do this by themselves. It's educational all round - I certainly couldn't spot Little Bear before my children showed me what it looked like!
As the nights draw in, take opportunity to hold your children up to the window to 'see what we can see'. Here, we're connecting awe and wonder with darkness. Nighttime is not just a time to be alone and scared. It's a time to explore the night sky and learn new things, and the Mid-Autumn Festival, with its bright moon, provides the perfect opportunity.
Read the full article here.