Tuesday, 22 September 2015

How to prepare your children for Halloween

Halloween is quickly creeping up on us and for some children it can be a really scary time. Whilst many relish in getting dressed up and going round knocking on doors to see what sweets they can get by the end of the night, for others it can be an incredibly fearful night, particularly if they are young and do not understand what is going on. However, there are certain things that you can do in order to help them to prepare for Halloween, including what to expect, and also how to make them feel more comfortable about the night itself.

You will probably spot the signs beforehand that your child is likely to be scared on and around Halloween. If they are prone to checking underneath the bed for monsters, or do not like sleeping in their own beds, it will be likely that they will not like the costumes that they will inevitably see around October 31st. Know your child, and try and spot the signs early, so you can prepare them.
When a child is scared of something it can make them incredibly stressed, which in turn will unearth a load of other issues. You may feel at times that you are going round in circles, but it is so important to ensure that you are patient with them. Remember that it won’t last forever, but do not focus on this alone. Do not tell them that they will grow out of it in time and openly dismiss their fears. It is important to be patient with them. For whatever reason they have these fears, try and get to the bottom of why they are feeling like they are. It might seem like an irrational silly fear when you’re an adult, but for a young child, it can completely engulf them. However frustrating it is at the time, you must be patient and appreciate that your child has feelings, and not to dismiss them. Trying to minimise them will only make them worse. You need to be respectful of their feelings, and work on helping the deal with the issue, rather than placing the focus on them ‘getting over it’. 

Instead of focusing on all the scary costumes, try and focus on the fun element. In the run up to Halloween, buy a few different books that make Halloween fun rather than frightening. Find out specifically what it is that is scaring them. It they are scared of the dark, try reading them a story in bed using only a torch as light. You could also consider buying a nightlight, or glow in the dark toys that they can take with them if they went trick or treating. If they are scared of the monster costumes that they will see at Halloween, or get scared going into their room overnight because they are scared of a monster; get them to draw the monster with a funny face. Or, act how different hand puppet shows where your child defeats the monster driving it out of their room. If you try and address and beat all of their demons inside, when it gets to Halloween they are likely to be a lot more relaxed.

Listen to what they want to do and try to find out what works for them. If it is just Halloween that your child is scared of, work at their own pace. Do not force them to dress up in an outfit that they find scary because you want them too. If it is the dark, why not go out earlier when it is lighter? This way they can still experience trick or treating without feeling uneasy or unnecessary scared. It could also help if you have children who are scared of all the costumes that you find at Halloween, as it is likely to be quieter the earlier you go out, and they will see fewer people dressed up in scary outfits. 

If you have other children who like to celebrate Halloween, try and make it as fun as possible whilst you are at home. Get all of your children together and make different decorations that will not scare your children. The last thing you want is for your children to feel scared in their own home. There are many different whimsical ideas that you can do that will make the holiday fun for them rather than making your home a scary place for them to be in. Let them decide their own costumes, or get them to dress up in different clothes that they have at home. This does not have to be Halloween related. If they want to dress up as a fairy, then let them. They are still joining in and having fun; but in such a way that will not be scary for them. Alternatively, you could try creating a costume that matches their interests. Regardless of what others think of the costume, the important thing is that your child feels comfortable in how they have dressed up. 

Finally, do not force your child to go trick or treating if they do not want to. There are plenty of different activities that you can do in your home that will be just as fun and entertaining, such as a Halloween picnic, or games, or even a Halloween trick or treat hunt in your own back garden. If they do not want to go up to other people’s houses do not force them. If they are showing an element of interest, but are quite timid, start off by visiting the houses in your own street, and make sure that you go up to the door with them. Once they have got used to that, you can try staying a few steps behind them, until they get used to and then just get further and further away until they are visiting the doors by themselves. Also, if you live in a street that has many children, get them all together to go trick or treating. Not only is it safer, but it also allows those who are a little nervous to relax and observe before they build up their confidence.

Halloween should be a fun exciting time, and a time for children to get dressed up and involved in the festivities. If your child is a little anxious, make sure you determine the cause before the holiday, and prepare them in the best way you can to make them feel at ease when the time comes.

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