Dealing with Halloween Fears & Memories in Children
Halloween is right around the corner, and is inescapable for most children and adults. While it certainly is a time for kids, more and more Halloween has become an adult holiday. This interest from adults changes the dynamic drastically, and can make things much scarier for children. Children will encounter monsters, ghosts, and ghouls; and whether it is the first time or the fifth, children will get scared. Here are seven things you can do to help your child have a good experience on Halloween in order to build positive memories.
- Practice gradual desensitization. Expose your child to masks, decorations, and make up gradually so they can learn at a slow pace that these things are not real.
- Allow them to play and touch items connected to Halloween. This will help them understand that Halloween is about pretend, and that the makeup and masks actually have people behind them, and are not monsters.
- Model behavior. Children learn a lot by watching the people closest to them, modeling that Halloween is fun and talking about what part you like will help your child understand it more clearly.
- Create a controlled environment. Start to create a dark space in your house and have your child use flashlights to familiarize them with the dark. Bring the Halloween decorations and masks into the room so they can see what they look like at night in a controlled environment.
- Talk about fears. Encourage your child to talk about their fears, ask questions, and listen carefully to what they are saying.
- Don’t force it. While you might be very excited to celebrate Halloween with your child, don’t force them if they aren’t ready. Doing so could impact the joy of Halloween for years to come.
- Process Halloween after the holiday. Children often need to continue playing and acting out what they experience in order to process the information. Just because the date has passed doesn’t mean that you should put all the Halloween decorations away immediately.
If your child seems to have continued Halloween fears after the holiday is passed, it may be worth consulting a therapist. At Patricia O’Laughlin Psychotherapy, I regularly work with teens and children for a number of issues, and always available for a consult phone call. Visit my contact page anytime.