The author spent her childhood on a farm in Florida where she rode horses, drove a tractor, and managed to solve the problem of how to shell peas while reading a book at the same time! It was that love of solving problems that led her to become a licensed counselor and to spend many years helping parents and children. While in graduate school in psychology, she attempted to solve the problem of how to help children whose terrifying fears of the dark contributed to intense unpleasant emotions for the child and major bedtime battles with parents – and interrupted sleep for both. Knowing how much books meant to her as a child, she wondered if children’s books incorporating research-based clinical tools could be effective in helping families. She wrote a 41-page children’s book for fear of the dark, only to have it fail! However, she then focused in her research on understanding why it failed.
One problem is that fear of the dark was more complicated than she thought because it is associated with more than 30 different stimuli (e.g., nightmares, sleeping alone, shadows, monsters). The other problem was that the book needed more therapeutic tools, but what? Looking at the data over time she eventually discovered how to create a book that was truly effective. As the author worked with data, the artist, Dianne Dusevitch, a friend from college, created the illustrations, initially in black and white, which she revised over the years, adding vibrant color throughout the Third Edition in 2020. Research versions of the book, Uncle Lightfoot Flip That Switch: Overcoming Fear of the Dark, have now been tested at universities in the US and Europe and found to be effective in helping children who are afraid of the dark, even those whose fear meets the criteria of phobia, a severe fear. The author continues to be involved in research on the use of self-help books for addressing mental health problems in children. She lives with her husband in Minnesota.
Uncle Lightfoot, Flip That Switch: Overcoming Fear of the Dark (Third Edition)
Juvenile Fiction, Parenting Non-Fiction
Does your child cry, whine, refuse to go to bed, or crawl into your bed at night because your child is afraid of the dark? Are bedtime fears exhausting you and your child, keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep? Previous versions of Uncle Lightfoot have been tested at four universities and found to be effective in helping children, ages 4 to 8, with nighttime fears through a fictional story woven around 17 fun family games and activities. Let Uncle Lightfoot Flip That Switch (Third Ed.) help you turn nighttime fears into nighttime fun!
Michael is afraid at night (e.g., darkness, monsters, noises, burglars, sleeping alone, nightmares). His friend, Jerome, calls him a “scaredy-cat.” Uncle Lightfoot, a modern-day Creek Indian, is a retired teacher who knows games that can help overcome nighttime fear. Michael’s parents, his brother, Tim, a young blind neighbor, Elizabeth, and even the farm dog, Lady, are willing to help Michael play the games! While gaining tools through games to deal with nighttime, Michael also learns to create shadow animals, ride a horse, track animals, calm a goat, and rescue the dog from a cereal box attack! The artist has given the Third Edition a new look with even more vividly colorful, often humorous illustrations throughout the book. The 88-page children's book contains short chapters (usually only three to five pages). A 14-page Parent Guidebook is in the Appendix.
The Third Edition of Uncle Lightfoot represents a refinement of an earlier edition that received the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) 2013 Seal of Merit Award. Can overcoming nighttime fears be exciting and fun? Uncle Lightfoot, Flip That Switch makes a convincing case that it can be.