What to Do if Halloween Truly Scares Your Child

My 18 year old doesn’t like Halloween. She is the kid who double checks all the doors are locked every night and scolds my husband and me when we are lax about safety. It follows she wouldn’t care for a macabre holiday. She doesn’t understand why I would want fake blood, headless figures and  scary witches decorating my home. If it is too much for a teenager, maybe it is too much for your little one. Though it is usually a bummer for my boys, I applaud the no mask, no weapon rule at the schools. But, even with some precaution, it is hard to escape the gruesome at this time of year.

If your child is haunted by Halloween, here are some tips to help him cope:

1. Keep the truly frightening stuff out of your home, but do not say it is because it is too scary. Do not add to her concern by voicing this opinion yourself.

2. Sprinkle a few things around that are cute versions of the more seriously scary stuff he may see. You can find plenty of smiling skeletons, friendly witches, sweet ghosts and adorable spiders at the stores right now. Getting used to them as part of the holiday will, like allergy shots, build up his immunity.

3. Be mindful of what she is watching. Previews of horror movies alone are enough to cause nightmares, and once she sees it, she can never un-see it. I still check behind the shower curtain, and I’ve never watched Psycho in its entirety.

4. Remove the power from the decorations by letting him touch them, by laughing at them as you drive by, by wondering aloud where someone could buy such things, and even by calling them ridiculous and silly. Do this “incidentally.” Try not to make it seem as if you are making a point. Kids absorb your attitude.

5. Find the fun in Halloween by focusing on pumpkin carving, costume choosing and parties.

6. Do not blow off your child’s fear. Make him feel safe and vindicated in his feelings, while explaining it is all make believe and will be over soon enough.

Halloween has always been a time to enjoy a good fright, but the easy access to gory decorations and the terrifying scenes on TV, make it hard now to avoid being scared if it is not what you are into. If your child is afraid of Halloween, make sure she knows she is not alone, and in fact, is smart for being scared of that which is truly frightening.

First published 2019.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at drkarenlatimer@gmail.com to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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