Everyone gets scared. Instilling some tactics in our children to help deal with the inevitable “Boo” that especially beckons around Halloween is not only helpful for the whole family, but important for the child. Things that scare us are not always Halloween-related. As we all know, scary can be make-believe, or real. Both are emotions that we can help to identify, address, and help them to cope with.
From ages 4 to 6 years old children commonly have fears about non-realistic things, such as ghosts and gouls. Believe it or not, these fears are magnified by the Halloween holiday (I know, DUH, right?) and its important we’re, as parents, are aware of this. Part of the reason I’m writing this series is because I do have a 4-year-old daughter who is aware of such things as “Monster High” that magnify the inevitable morbid curiosity in her.
The above photos are of a Monster High doll (no, we don’t allow anything Monster High in our home for what I assume are obvious reasons), a Google search result for “scary costumes for young children” in which it returned an image of a young boy in a costume depicting him holding his own, severed head with a knife and bloody neck, and that last one is of a scared cat… because I was a total scardy cat after seeing these costumes actually exist.
Creating a safe, comfortable, and positive environment in your own home is pretty much easily attainable. However, creating that same environment outside the home is more easily written than done.
Here are some steps to take this Halloween when Tackling the Scary:
- Identify the scary. My daughter will often go and stand by something like a scary ghost decoration, or grab my hand when something she sees up ahead that scares her.
- Lets say that the “scary” is the fear of a monster. Help the child see monsters as “human”. Have a little story about a family of monsters that addresses them nurturing each other and imitating love that is the same as in your family.
- Sometimes I tell my daughter that things are not real. Imagination is a powerful trait in young children, and telling them that things like fairies and dolls aren’t real can really harm them I feel. But as for some things that are hard to grasp, like an adult dressed up as a scary goblin, I will tell her that that goblin isn’t real. When appropriate, you may even ask the adult to remove a mask to see the person inside.
- Getting too close to dressed-up people that frighten our children, especially with them in our arms, can make them feel that they’re out of control. They bury their faces in our necks and often scream or cry. Try backing away from the character and ask them to get down on the child’s level, still remaining several feet away from the child. Even if the little one never turns around or shows interest in going closer, let them know you are on their side.
- Remind your children that you are the parent, and its your job to protect them. You will hold their hand and stand right by their side as you face their phobias and fears together. You have fears too- try talking about strategies you have when you have to face your fears. (Example: I hate snakes. Seriously, hate those things. But when I see one on the sidewalk, I back away and look at it from a distance. Gradually the snake moves on. I don’t voice to my children that I hate snakes… I just observe them and comment on how they have scales or use their tongue for smell. Then I tell my daughter that, although I fear snakes sometimes, my strategy is to distance myself from them to make myself feel more secure about them.)
- Read books about things that might give them the heeby-jeebies, such as spider, bat, or snake books. Read books about Halloween that talk about being scared or facing fears. If you’re religious, turn to your faith for advice and/or proverbs about being brave, being protected, or facing your fears.
- Always let your child tell you what’s next when it comes to their fears. YOU, the parent, know YOUR CHILD. You are your child’s own best detective and protector when it comes to fears.
My brave daughter facing a snake in the grass! Go Girl!