How to keep Halloween from being too scary for kids

Halloween is a day of imagination and pretend. Yet, it can be scary for some kids. Between the ages of 3 and 5 kids are mastering the developmental task of distinguishing fantasy from reality.

Understanding that monsters are not real and don’t live under their beds, and that fairies can’t fly through their window at night, are normal and age appropriate challenges between the ages of 3 and 5. Psychotherapist Dr. Erin Leonard shares her thoughts:

If your child is 5 or younger, be thoughtful….
1) Don’t overwhelm them with scary situations.
2) Avoid sending them around w older siblings (who are probably into the scarier stuff), keep them with you and make sure you are buffering the frightening material and reassuring them that it is just pretend.

Occasionally, an older child will become overstimulated or frightened by something they see- this is also normal. Different material impacts us differently. Before they go out for the afternoon or evening, let them know if they see something too scary or frightening, they have every right to excuse themselves politely and call you to pick them up.

Frequently, older kids don’t want to admit to being scared in front of their friends, so give them permission to say “I don’t feel good. I should go home.” or “I’ve had too much candy, I feel sick. I’m going to call my mom.” It’s ok for them to say they have to go to the bathroom and call you from the bathroom.

Different material impacts kids differently, but if they know they have an “out,” it will keep them safe.