How to make Halloween less scary for children

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine
Theresa Kruczek

Here are some of our best collected tips to help children a little put off by all the Halloween hoopla:

1. Know your Child's Limits

"Just because you love haunted houses doesn't mean your 4-year-old will," Kruczek says. "Parents are in the best position to know what frightens their child and to help them cope with Halloween.  If kids freak out during a scary movie, they'll freak out at a haunted house or when someone in a scary outfit comes by."

2. Pull out a Hat (or in this case, a can) Trick!

Kruczek suggest a simple household item may help any anxiety a child may have after seeing a scary Halloween decoration or costume. Its perfect for bedtime jitters. "After a frightening experience, children may have nightmares. They really can't tell us too much about the dream, but we can take some precautions to ward off those dreams by using a can of air freshener, otherwise known as anti-monster spray, to keep monsters at bay. Monsters don't like nice-smelling stuff." Watch a video on the advantages of Anti-Monster Spray

3. Demystify Decorations

Point them out and tell your child they are pretend and are meant to be fun. In fact, onnie Zucker, Psy.D., a psychologist in Rockville, Maryland, and author of Anxiety-FreeKids suggests parent try to help familiarize him with the scary stuff. "Take mini steps. Go to a Halloween store. Find pictures of people in costumes online, or go to a local farm stand that has some decorations up," suggests Dr. Zucker.

4. Take Various Precautions

To make Halloween more fun than it is scary. Kruczek suggests the following:

• Limit preschoolers to 30 minutes or less of activities, including trick-or-treating, and only during daylight hours.

• Ask friends and strangers to take off masks to show children that there really is a person under the costume.

• Parents and siblings should never wear masks around youngsters afraid of such items.

• In families with children of varying age ranges, allow each youngster to participate in age-appropriate activities.

• Avoid haunted houses unless the facility offers age-appropriate activities.