With all the hype around Halloween and “spooky season,” it’s no surprise that kids’ fears tend to come out during the month of October. Although the parental instinct is to protect kids from ever being afraid, children can actually grow and expand their confidence when facing fears.
It is very common for children to develop anxieties around things such as sleeping alone, the dark, or even certain animals. When these worries develop, kids may start to fear monsters under their bed or in other unseen places. While the fear of an invisible monster under the bed may seem small to adults, for children, it can be a very real nightmare.
️Halloween Can Wake Up Children’s Fears
Many children experience new emotions related to fear when Halloween is around the corner. The eerie decorations, spooky images on TV, and evenings getting darker sooner all add to the stress of kids’ building anxieties. All of these new stimuli can be difficult for kids to compartmentalize.
During the Halloween season, it can be challenging for kids to distinguish what’s real and what’s part of their imagination. They may struggle to understand why someone would do something scary on purpose–for fun!
Remember, fear is a natural emotion: we are all born with it. It’s a survival mechanism that helps us protect ourselves from danger. With so much access to images online and in the world around them, childhood fears can develop quickly and powerfully. Kids often develop fears of the dark, thunderstorms, animals, and loud noises. These fears may grow once children begin going to school and are separated from their parents for long parts of the day. Fears can also arise when children misinterpret information or through the stories they hear from other kids and family members.
So, how can we help our children handle their fears on Halloween and throughout the rest of the year?
4 Tips to Help Kids Cope with Their Halloween Fears
1. Kid-Friendly Activities 🎃
If your child is worrying about scary costumes or images around Halloween, look for kid-friendly activities that they can participate in instead. Carving pumpkins, creating costumes for their favorite characters, and enjoying candy are all safe ways to celebrate Halloween.
With activities like these, kids learn to recognize that Halloween can be fun to celebrate. However, it’s important not to force your child to participate in the celebration if they don’t feel ready. Think about an activity they may feel more comfortable with, like staying home instead of going out to collect candy.
2. Prepare for Trick-or-treating 🍬
When kids trick-or-treat in the neighborhood, they might have to walk by some truly scary haunted houses or see people dressed up in terrifying costumes. Since young kids aren’t able to differentiate between what is real and what isn’t, it will help them to be prepared for what to expect.
Explain to your child that some people find it fun to dress up in scary costumes on Halloween. Emphasize that they are real people under the costumes and not monsters or creatures. You can highlight this by getting a silly mask and putting it over your face. Have your child pull off the silly mask to see that it’s still you underneath. If they see a scary costume while trick-or-treating, remind them that it’s just a normal kid who is pretending for fun!
3. Have a Plan for Unexpected Behavior 📝
It’s wise to have a plan for any unexpected behavior that may occur. Big celebrations can bring out both positive and overwhelming emotions in kids. Have an idea of your trick-or-treat route so that you can get home easily if your child gets scared or has a tantrum. Be calm in your approach and stay at your kid’s side while they are calming down.
4. Create New Family Traditions 🕸️
Create new family traditions that help you bond. For example, telling “scary” stories with happy endings can help your child understand that monsters, spiders, or bats are not so scary. You can make it a memorable event by lighting candles, making a fort, and using a flashlight to illuminate your faces while you tell these stories.
Helpful Tips To Combat Everyday Fear
Of course, kids can develop fears that are not just related to Halloween. Here are some tips to be empathetic with kids’ fears and help them feel calmer when they are anxious and scared:
- Calm your child by using reassuring words and not raising your voice. Keep in mind that, at that precise moment, your child might not be able to reason. In a moment when your child is feeling very scared, one of the best ways to support them is to remain neutral and relaxed.
- Tell your child that they can share their concerns with you. Acknowledge the fear as something that is valid that is making them feel bad.
- Offer support and ideas to help your child cope with fears. Show them how to take deep breaths or use a flashlight if they’re afraid of the dark.
- Avoid saying things like: “don’t be afraid.” Instead, follow a step-by-step process in which kids can confront their fears gradually.
- Speak with a pediatrician or mental health professional. If your child doesn’t respond to your repeated attempts to help them, or if their childhood fears interrupt their development or activities, it may be the right time to get support from a professional who can address any deeper concerns.
Lingokids and Overcoming Kids’ Fears 💙
Interested in learning more about the games, songs, and activities on the Lingokids app that supports children in their development of life skills? Download the app and check out the content on our YouTube channels.
How do you help your child cope with fears around Halloween? Let us know by tagging us on social media!