Turn Halloween Fears into Fun for Kids
By Dr. Charles Sophy
Remember black nights and massive buckets of candy? Remember scaring
yourself silly just for fun? Remember choosing the best costume ever
and how it felt to be that person for one whole night? Even if you
don't participate, Halloween is a great time to be a kid. If your
kids want a little Halloween fright here's how to make sure the fear
they feel is fun. In this article, you'll discover what fear feels
like to a kid, why supervised fear can be healthy, and how to help
your kids face fears and have more fun.
Let's meet Max
Max is three years old and he's at the park with Mom and Dad. Across
the great lawn there's a crowd of adults chatting outside the
elementary school. Suddenly the big red school doors swing open and
ghouls and goblins stream forth.
Mom and Dad swipe Max off the playground and carry him right toward
the gruesome parade of ghouls and goblins. Max sees ghastly dragons,
marauding pirate ghosts and disgusting squishy insects twice his
size. He buries his head in Mom's chest but he can almost feel the
freakish onslaught slither over him.
When he opens his eyes it's worse. Hideous trombone bleats,
screeching trumpets, irksome piccolo tremolo and galumphing tuba
belches chop the air.
"Isn't this fun?" says Mom.
A swirl of fiends floats past. Max says nothing and looks for Dad.
Max twists his head this way and that, but he can't see Dad
anywhere. Where's Dad! Max tries to hold it back but suddenly a
storm of teardrops streams down his face and he screams, "Daddy!"
Mom pulls Max close. She's carrying him away, but where's Dad? Max
fears the worst. Has the horrid Halloween Parade swallowed up Dad
"No, no, honey," says Mom. "I'm sorry. Daddy just had to go back to
work. You must have missed his goodbye kiss."
Clearly, Max made more out of the Halloween Parade than Mom and Dad
expected. Very young children have trouble telling the difference
between fantasy and reality. For Max, the weird creatures in the
Halloween Parade were real... and very scary.
At home, Mom will talk to Max and give him hugs. She'll teach him
about Halloween and assure him that the scary creatures were nice
children playing dress up. Dad will call on the phone and later when
he's home Mom and Dad will help Max understand his feelings. In this
way, Max will learn to cope with surprises and get ready to take
careful risks later in life.
Now let's take a look at some ways you can tiptoe through Halloween
and turn fears into fun for kids.
Teach your children about Halloween, give them options, and let them
choose what they want to experience. Also, if your child is wearing
a costume they'll probably understand about dress up, if not, show
them masks and costumes at a shop and make it clear that they're
just for fun.
It's a good idea to include your child in Halloween fun. A little
doubt teaches them to overcome fears. However, don't push your
child. Instead, focus on fun, monitor their reactions, and gently
expose them to excitement. And give them control over the fun. A
flashlight at night and permission to turn down a dare lets them
regulates Halloween fright.
Watch for signs of ongoing upset after a fright. Look for
nervousness, a change in mood, clinging or withdrawal, bad dreams or
other night-time problems. If you see a change, talk to your child.
Identify what's troubling them and soothe their lingering fears. A
little extra attention and support goes a long way. And focus on
calm activities - especially before bedtime - until they overcome
Dr. Charles Sophy, author of the "Keep 'Em Off My Couch" blog,
provides real simple answers for solving life's biggest problems. He
specializes in improving the mental health of children. To contact
Dr. Sophy, visit his blog at