Halloween is getting closer and your neighborhood has gotten into the decorating spirit. There are homes with tombstones, skeletons and pumpkins on lawns. Some have ghosts, clowns and witches hanging from their trees and giant spiders on the sides of their homes. Depending on your child, they might think this either pretty cool or pretty scary.
So what if your child is anxious, sensitive, and fearful? Last Halloween they were terrified and you didn’t even make it around the block because they had a total meltdown. You might be debating whether or not to try trick or treating again this year.
Keep in mind that your child is growing and developing and the ability to differentiate between real and fantasy takes time. Children who are sensitive and tend to be fearful and anxious, need A LOT of prepping for events like Halloween.
Here are 13 ways to help your anxious child this Halloween:
- Read children’s books about Halloween.
- Watch family friendly halloween movies.
- Let them help you put up Halloween decor.
- While out at different stores have them notice and browse the Halloween decor.
- Walk around your neighborhood during the day. Allow your child to get familiar with the houses and their decor. Talk about it, what it’s made out of etc..
- Let them choose their costume, have them try it on at home a few times.
- Go out at night prior to the night of Halloween, you don’t want Halloween to be the first time they have been out when it’s dark out.
- Put Halloween on a visible calendar. Emphasize it is just one night. Talk about holidays that come after Halloween.
- Talk about favorite halloween candy and have them pick out the candy for trick or treaters.
- Do arts and crafts related to Halloween, including Jack o Lantern’s together.
- Make Halloween deserts, ideally those that have red syrup or strawberry filling. Point out how they can look like blood. (Makes it easier to explain the fake blood on costumes).
- Play Hide and Go Seek as a family to practice being surprised in safe fun way.
- Use play to empower kids, use toys to role play a night of trick or treating. Dress up stuffed animals or favorite action figures.
Keep in mind, the goal is to get your child used to the idea that Halloween is really about having fun, dressing up and playfully getting spooked.
- Allow your child to have a sense of control. Let them observe other trick or treaters go to the door first, let them decide what houses they are willing to try out.
- Ask some of the kids to show your child their face behind the masks, and point out the variety of costumes in the neighborhood.
- Go with your child to the door to get the candy, hold their hand or whatever you need to do make them feel safe.
- .Have an action plan ready in case your child become overwhelmed. Let them know they can take a break when they need to.
- Give them credit for trying and comfort them, this was hard for them to do.
- Remember they can try again next year.
Good luck! Have a happy and safe Halloween!