Some kids love Halloween and scary, gory things. But lots of children are scared by the holiday, whether it's the decorations, costumes or the trick-or-treating. Since the main element of Halloween is death, psychologists advise parents to be careful with the subject as kids aged 6-7 usually don't differentiate between real death and lunging reapers. Every kid is different and will experience Halloween on different levels, but a really frightful experience can traumatize a kid for really long time.
Here are a few tips to deal with frightened children on the upcoming holiday:
1. Validate their fear. Don't try to diminish it, listen to them. Children might not even know which part of Halloween scares them. But you can help them figure it out by explaining the different elements of the holiday. It is reassuring for your kid to know you are there when he/she is scared. Once the fear's source is determined, it might be easier to deal with it. The point is not to try to take the fear away, but rather dealing with it. Your child might not get over it until he or she is older, and that's ok.
2. Find alternatives to trick-or-treating:
- Keep Halloween a school-only event, where they generally embrace non-aggressive costumes policies.
- Avoid Halloween stores and departments.
- Stay home to hand out candy.
- Host a Halloween party to keep control over the parts that scare your child.
- Let them pick out any decorations and their own costumes (if they chose to) so they control the environment.
- Celebrate the Fall Harvest instead of Halloween.
3. Read Halloween Books
4. Stress the fact that Halloween is all pretend.
5. Practice wearing simple masks at home in front of a mirror, putting on the fun costumes they like on other days, and encourage it on the days leading up to Halloween. Let them choose between a mask or face paint, sometimes face paint is easier to handle for younger kids.
6. Put on a costume yourself to show that it's fun for you, too.
7. Be prepared to change your plans. Sometimes the preparations are more fun for your kids. Halloween night might be too much for them and they might not want to see kids in costumes.
Do you have ideas for helping kids who are scared of Halloween?
(Image: Flickr user vdrg dansschool licensed for user under Creative Commons)