halloween, kids, trick-or-treating

Halloween is supposed to be all about ghosts and goblins, but it also has become a big autumn holiday to celebrate all things autumn. Halloween has become increasingly popular in the North America with haunted houses and haunted forests on every corner. Decorations can range from cute pumpkins and skeletons, and bloody dead bodies and cackling spirits. However, despite the popularity of these creepier venues, there are kids and families who are not into all the blood and gore that is sometimes equated with this autumn holiday.

Do you have a child who is scared of Halloween? Some kids like to stay away from the scary part of Halloween and that is okay. My three children have pretty big imaginations and were especially sensitive when they were younger to creepy Halloween movies and they would avoid trick or treating at any house that had "jump scare" type decorations outside. Young children often have many fears as their imagination develops. Halloween is a magical, imaginative time, but many of the traditional things can be scary to a young child who doesn't understand all that is behind it. As a parent, I was happy to help them avoid these scary things, since it kept them from sleeping in my bedroom for the whole month of October. But it's hard to completely avoid all thing Halloween forever. There's no need to "toughen them up" while they are young, and it’s okay to help them enjoy the happier side of Halloween while trying to understand and teach them to conquer their fears. So if this sounds familiar to you, let's talk about how to help kids who may be afraid of Halloween. Here are seven ways to make Halloween not so scary.

1. Talk about what's behind the costume.

Sometimes even seeing someone they know in a scary costume can be hard for a child. Help them understand what goes into making those costumes. Show them videos of costume makeup transformations or take them to the costume aisle at the store and remind them how it's really just a regular person behind the mask, and wig, and makeup. If there is someone in your family who wants to wear a scary costume, let your child be a part of the process and see how the person they love is really still there and that it's just pretend.

2. Fill your home with less scary decorations.

There are plenty of cute and delightful Halloween decorations out there. Since many people have the scary decorations out, you could fill your home with the less scary decor of pumpkins and happy-faced ghosts to help your kids focus on that part of Halloween instead.

3. Understand their fear of monsters and ghosts.

If your child is afraid of creepy monsters and booing ghosts, start by acknowledging their fears. You could also have them draw pictures or act out stories about these fears so that you can understand what exactly they are afraid of. Act out stories or role play where a character finds out the monster is not real. This helps you be able to discuss their fears and how those creatures are just pretend.

4. Visit the pumpkin patch.

The pumpkin patch still holds magical Halloween charm as we've all witnessed in the movie, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The fall festivals and pumpkin patches around town have also increased in popularity and can make Halloween still feel very festive without all the gore. Avoid the haunted houses and other frightening events. If your child is still worried about those places, talk about what really happens behind the scenes and how it's just regular people running them.

5. Help them understand the dark.

Many young children are afraid of the dark. Halloween seems to be focused on the darkness. We trick or treat at night, haunted houses are always dark, and most Halloween movies have scenes in the darkness. Kids may see these movies or images, and feel scared. Darkness creates a fear of the unknown and often their imaginations are very alive when they are young, making this fear even greater. Stay calm whenever your child freaks out in the dark. Show them that darkness is okay by turning the light on and off and showing them how everything is still the same. Help your child feel empowered by giving them the things they need to feel safe. This could be a special blanket, stuffed animal, night light, or maybe just a reassurance that their caregiver will check on them in five minutes.

6. Go over safety rules.

Many times kids feel scared because they feel unsafe. Remind them of the safety rules on Halloween so they can feel more control over the situation as they trick or treat. Halloween safety rules such as not going inside anyone's house, only eating candy after a parent has looked it over, staying with your group, and wearing reflective clothing or taking a flashlight will help your child feel less scared about Halloween.

7. Focus on the happy.

Since there can be a lot of scary stuff going around a week or so before Halloween, focus on the happy of Halloween with your children. Read happy Halloween books, and watch the less scary Halloween movies out there. If you are unsure about the content, watch or read the media first before letting your child do so. It's also okay, to not let Halloween activities consume all of your family time during October. Keep regular routines and do some normal activities to help your child not feel overwhelmed by the scary parts of the holiday.

No matter how you celebrate the Halloween holiday, just make sure the make it fun for the whole family. Find ways to laugh and connect with your family members as much as you can so it can be a memorable year!

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