With the costumes, candy, games, and parties Halloween brings, it can be an exciting time for many children! For some children, however, it can also bring about fears and concerns, especially with graphic costumes, haunted houses, and talk of various monsters. Here are some tips to help your child who is scared feel safe and have fun on Halloween.
Tips To Help Your Child Not be Scared On Halloween:
-Halloween involves a variety of activities, some that will feel exciting and others that may spark fears in young children. Talk to your child to see what aspects of Halloween she is looking forward to and what components concern her. This can help your child feel comfortable talking about Halloween so that she can open up to you about fears as she has them.-Children may not know what they are afraid of until they come face to face with it-on TV when there is a commercial for a haunted house, at the store when they see a monster mask, or at school when other children talk about frightening costumes. Be mindful of these instances to understand what scares your child.-When children express fears or concerns, acknowledge your child’s feelings to empathize. In an effort to reassure their children, some parents may inadvertently minimize their children’s fears (Ex. “Don’t be scared. It’s just a mask.”). Instead, show your child that it is okay to feel scared and ask questions to understand her specific fears (Ex. “I bet it was scary when the kids were talking about bloody costumes at school. Are you afraid that they will wear those costumes to your school party?”)
-After listening attentively and validating your child’s concerns, reassure your child by explaining the concept of “pretend.” (Ex. “Those monster masks are scary, but it’s not a real monster. On Halloween, people wear masks and costumes that are pretend. That means it isn’t real-it’s just dress-up time for one day.”)
-Schools generally have a non-violent costume policy. Confirm this rule with the school and reassure your child that scary costumes are not allowed.-Steer your child away from Halloween aisles at grocery stores. Some masks and costumes may be too gory, graphic, and age inappropriate for your child to see.-Talk to your older children about their siblings’ fears so that they can be sensitive about what to talk about in front of their brother or sister. Older children can also provide validation and support to their younger siblings (Ex. “Your brother used to be scared of those masks too but not anymore. Paul, can you tell Jane what helped you to not feel scared anymore?”)
-Churches, universities, and community centers offer activity-filled days for the entire family to enjoy. Project Pumpkin at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, for example, invites children and families from the Chicagoland area to enjoy a safe day of trick-or-treating and carnival games!-Help your child choose a lighthearted costume so that she can focus on her own chance to dress up! Here is a great website with Halloween costumes for children with easy-to-follow instructions to make at home!