Halloween is a great time of year for little kids. What’s not to love? They get to dress up as their favorite characters, play spooky games at Halloween parties, go door-to-door collecting free goodies and do fun crafts like pumpkin carving and painting. But for very young children, some of the scarier aspects of Halloween, that may be fun for their older siblings, might cause them some anxiety. Imagine if you’re a 3-year-old who opens the door to a grim reaper dripping in blood. That’s going to cause a few nightmares, to say the least! Learn how to prepare your little ones for Halloween so that the night is filled with treats, not tricks.
- Consider a less scary trick-or-treat alternative. When you hit the streets of your neighborhood, you never know what kind of ghoulish costumes or frightening decorations you may encounter. There are all kinds of trick-or-treating alternatives designed with smaller children in mind. Many schools and churches offer trunk-or-treat events that cater to a younger crowd. Check your local shopping mall to see if they offer indoor trick-or-treating, which not only minimizes the scarier elements of Halloween, but also protects from potentially frigid temperatures to keep your little ones warm.
- Talk about real and make believe with your children before Halloween. Let them know that they may see some people walking around who look scary, but they are simply wearing masks made out of plastic or rubber (show them examples of these materials in their toys to illustrate other benign items made out of these materials). Talk to your children about scary face paint and let them know that some people like to be scared to have fun, but not to worry because there are just people under the makeup and costumes.
- Reassure your child that goblins, witches, ghouls, vampires, etc. are not real. Small children have powerful imaginations, so you want to make sure they know that all the scary things they may see on television, in party decoration stores, on people’s lawns, etc. are all imaginary things that can’t hurt them. If you plan to go trick-or-treating in your neighborhood, take them to a Halloween decoration store in the daylight to show them what they might expect to see while you’re out and about.
- Give your child control. Let your child know that he or she calls the shots. Even though you have reassured your child that all of the decorations and costumes aren’t real, your child may still be scared. Skip a house that’s too scary and if your child becomes overwhelmed, head in early and hand out treats to other kids.
- Skip trick-or-treating and throw a party. If you’ve introduced your child to the idea of scary costumes and decorations and he or she is still not on board, skip trick-or-treating and have a few friends over for a costume party prior to Halloween night. Bake cute Halloween goodies, make a Halloween craft and have a little costume parade around the house. On Halloween night, if your little one is up to it, sit together and watch a kid-friendly Halloween cartoon and hand out candy together.
Halloween festivities are fun, optional activities. If your preschooler is scared, that’s not fun for anyone. Don’t be disappointed if your child is too scared to do what you enjoyed doing as a child. Let go a little and make new traditions. By next year, your little one may be ready to venture out into the spooky night and gather up all those free goodies.
Do you have questions about what we at Sparkles! do to introduce your children to Halloween? Contact a teacher or staff member today! We’re always here to help.