October is the month celebrating all things autumn and spooky. Businesses hang up ghostly decorations, pumpkin patches open up with fun activities, and scary movies become more pronounced on Netflix and other streaming sites. Even at school, children do Halloween crafts or plan their costumes for trick o’ treating.
But what do you do if your child is afraid of Halloween?
Not all kids love haunted houses or scary costumes. They may feel afraid of masks because they can’t see or expect the face behind it, allowing them to believe something harmful might happen to them. Many may freak out when they see ghosts, spiders, skeletons, or witches that decorate shops and houses. The decorations themselves might look scary, but it’s the idea that something gruesome might come and hurt them.
It’s not always rational, and their fear can’t be solved simply by talking them about facts. If your child is scared of Halloween every year, here are a few ways you can help them.
Don’t Downplay Their Fears
Many kids have unrealistic fears about a lot of different things, like the monster under their bed or in the closet or fear of the dark. However, though their fear may be unfounded, the anxiety they feel is real. Trying to reason with them or shame them for being afraid won’t help alleviate their stress.
They might be afraid of masks and costumes, decorations, going up to strangers for candy, or even going out to trick-or-treat at night. Regardless of their fear, listen to them and open up that communication with them. Assure them that you understand and hear their worries, that you’re there to keep them safe, and that it’s OK to be afraid sometimes. Though they might still feel anxious, vocalizing their fears and knowing that you are there to protect them can help them feel much safer.
Avoid Scary Decorations & Activities
You might not be able to avoid every house on the block decorated with Halloween spirit, but you can at least avoid putting up the spooky décor at your home. Maybe your child freaks out about monsters and ghosts, but they might like pumpkins and leaves. You can decorate your house with those instead and have your kids to help you put up the friendly Halloween décor.
Even if you love haunted houses, scary movies, pumpkin carving, and corn mazes, keep your frightened child in mind when choosing family activities. Instead of doing traditional Halloween things, you can do other fall activities like attending a fall festival or talk to them about compromises you can make together.
If you have one child that doesn’t want to go trick-or-treating but another who does, then coordinate something with friends or family so both kids can partake in the activities they enjoy. Another way to help a child afraid of trick-or-treating is to go with another adult or older children. When the older kids go first, they show the younger ones what to do or weed out any neighbors or teens waiting to jump out at trick-or-treaters.
Prepare Your Kid In Advance
Halloween comes around at the same time every year, and most kids will start to expect it, especially when they see the decorations and candy showing up at Target and Walmart. When the time comes around, you can use the month of October to prepare them for the holiday by letting them know what to expect.
You can look at costumes together, come up with fun family activities that they are comfortable with, and watch kid-friendly Halloween movies or videos. It’s also a good time to talk to them about fears and gauge what they’re OK with and what makes them feel scared.
Keep Expectations Low
It’s essential to manage your own expectations as well as you prepare for Halloween. Even if you love the holiday, don’t let your excitement overshadow your child’s fears. You might need to skip the haunted house or trick-or-treating, so make sure to expect that so you don’t feel too disappointed. Maybe next year or the year after that they’ll come to love it!
When it comes to trick-or-treating, kids might feel thrilled to pick out their costume, plead for a specific (and pricey!) outfit, and then end up not wearing it because trick-or-treating is too scary. They might feel like it’s not what they wanted after all and refuse to wear it.
After spending money and time on their costume, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing them reject it. However, be flexible and keep your expectations low even before going to get their costumes. Kids can be unpredictable in their moods, especially if they have a love and fear of Halloween.
Halloween is a great holiday for those who love free candy and dressing up. Even if your kid is afraid of spooky things, who can resist free sweets?
Is your child afraid of Halloween? Let us know how you handle it by leaving a reply!
Emily currently lives in Orange County, California after spending four years in Illinois and half a year teaching in Florence, Italy. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Knox College and an M.A. in Counseling from the University of San Diego and has taught English to native speakers and ESL students for over three years. When she’s not working as a School Counselor or writing, she enjoys traveling the world, playing instruments, and blogging about Millennial experiences at Long Live the Twenties.