As we head into the spookiest season of the year, it’s time to break out the candy corn, the pumpkin spice, your autumn cardigan, and all of the holiday festivities.
For the most part, October is all fun and games… until someone gets spooked. And as much as we love this time of year, it can be challenging for those with sensitive and/or easily startled, young children.
Kids, especially toddlers and preschoolers, have a hard time distinguishing between what’s real and what’s not making the costumes and overall spooky allure of Halloween potentially terrifying for younger children. When so much of October is inundated with jack-o-lanterns, witches flying through the night sky, and friendly (or not so friendly) ghosts, it can be very difficult to protect your child from every single thing that may scare them this month.
But, never fear, here are some tips for navigating the spookiness of the season and ensuring that you and your child have the best October possible.
Being prepared is the first step of winning any battle and the same is true when it comes to dealing with frightened children. The best way to avoid scaring your children is to prepare for the possibility that they may get scared and do what you can to avoid potential triggers. This can also be done by showing them that masks and makeup are part of the fun and not something to be scared of.
Keep Open Lines of Communication
If your child has expressed signs of fear such as increased anxiety, trouble sleeping, stomach aches, nightmares, or avoidant behavior it is a good idea to talk to the other caretakers in their life. If you’re a parent let your childcare provider know and vice versa. Applications like Childwatch are great for opening these lines of communication and helping parents/ childcare providers stay up to date on what their children may be feeling and dealing with.
Talk To Your Kids
As important as it is to talk to other adults, it’s also important to talk with your children and make sure they know that you understand and are willing to help them navigate their fears. Take their fears seriously and work together to come up with a solution that makes them feel safe, whether that means investing in a new nightlight or stocking up on “monster spray” to fight those monsters under the bed.
Focus on Fun
For some people Halloween is all about being scared, but there are ways for all ages to enjoy the holiday by focusing on having fun rather than being spooked. Young kids are likely to enjoy fun costumes, holiday treats, and cute decorations.
Don’t Be Afraid of Fear
If your child does get scared, the most important thing to remember is that being scared is a normal and natural part of childhood. With patience and encouragement, your child can learn to manage their fears and gain confidence, two very important, lifelong skills. However, if your child has feelings of anxiety or fear that persist and interfere with their ability to enjoy everyday life, you may want to seek the support of a mental health professional who can provide more individualized advice for your child.
This month is the beginning of Fall and as spooky as it can be there are many opportunities for fun and excitement. When it comes to protecting your kids from all the ghouls and ghosts that come out to play this time of year, be patient and remember that these fears won’t last forever.
Enjoy this season and all of the spookiness that comes with it!