Halloween has become a big deal in the UK in recent years. However not all children are equally thrilled by its approach. It’s the one holiday that is meant to scare. For sensitive children it can be a trial rather than a pleasure.
Very young children struggle to understand the world that Halloween depicts. It confuses fantasy and reality and brings their nightmares to life. On top of that, familiar adults start dressing up and appearing frightening. It’s not surprising that some kids find the whole thing both terrifying and unpredictable.
Laughing at their fears or trying to minimise them doesn’t help. Instead talk to your children well in advance about how people dress up as scary things to help them overcome their own fears. Let them see the unreality first. Present the inside of a scary mask before showing them the hideous side. This means they can understand how costumes work. Make sure that if you’re wearing a costume they have seen it beforehand. Your nanny can help by reading ‘scary’ books like the Gruffalo, Where the Wild Things Are and Room on the Broom to give your little one a more balanced picture of the pleasure of being scared.
Halloween parties, dressing up as scary characters at school, pumpkins and spiders webs at home … it can be overwhelming for any child.
If your child refuses to wear a Halloween costume after spending weeks choosing it. Or refuses to eat the Halloween themed food you’ve lovingly made. Accept that they may be feeling it’s all a bit too much. Again, heading into a quieter room with nanny to do something familiar and predictable. It’s surprising how attractive homework can become at such times!
For the sensitive child, Halloween is a trial. So try to reduce their exposure to difficult events. For example, it may be better to take them trick or treating solo. Rather than with a huge bunch of school-friends. Watching a favourite film at home with a plate of Halloween goodies may be preferable to a party full of terrifying events and scary tricks.
At the other end of the scale is the child who is over-excited and hyper about Halloween and who gobbles all their trick or treat sweets as fast as they get them. Such a child needs to be grounded in the reality of life after halloween so planning a simple outing or activity for 1 or 2 November can help anchor them.
Trick or Treating
- Ensure your little ones have a tag with your mobile number attached to their costume. Do a trial run so you’re sure they can walk in their costume and handle their props. Too many trick or treat evenings end in tears when somebody trips over a hem or pokes themselves in the eye with their toy sword.
- Every child is more confident with a torch. So supply each of your children with a shockproof torch. Clockwork ones give them something to concentrate on which can distract from overly scary situations.
- Make sure their treat bucket isn’t easy to dip into. We’ve found string shopping bags lined with black cotton are brilliant treat traps and with a couple of spiders glued to them they look suitably spooky. Then you, or your nanny, will be able to supervise what is eaten on the evening. When you get home. Offer to take the bag and give each child a sticker book or inexpensive toy in return. Then you’ll have time to sift through their ‘winnings’ and work out how to ration them so they aren’t made hyperactive or sick.