4 Ways To Prepare Your Preschooler for Halloween

October is a glorious time of year. After all, the weather is beautiful and every corner seems to feature a colorful display of mums and pumpkins. It is also time to celebrate the perennial holiday favorite; Halloween!

Halloween decorations, parties, and candy have long been a staple, but now retailers are selling merchandise in the last few weeks of summer, and certainly by early September. Most stores have a “scary” section with household decorations that are more gruesome and ghoulish than ever before. At one time, the holiday was geared to very young children, but now adults have joined in the fun by outfitting their homes and enjoying the festivities. For very young children this can be problematic.

Preschoolers are just beginning to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, so it can be very frightening to see blood, or dangerous objects associated with what should be a more benign celebration. Decorations coupled with darkness, make it easy for some children to develop anxiety or fear. Very young children will not realize that daddy with a mask is still daddy! So what is the best way to cope with fear of darkness or monsters? Here are 4 tips:

1. Treat this seasonal fear much like any other. It is very helpful to validate the fear by saying something like: “That monster is scary. I don’t like looking at it either.” As with most fears, giving a child choice and ensuring some predictability will be helpful.

2. It's a good idea to talk a bit about Halloween before the holiday arrives.

3. Allowing your child to choose his/her costume, the family pumpkin, and select a few neighbors’ homes to visit is also a good idea.

4. I generally think that limited exposure to a scary item is okay, but should be introduced with reassurance and factual explanation. Children can be told that adults and children wearing masks and costumes are still the same person underneath. When the fire department comes to visit, they do the same thing when introducing their face shield and mask.

Lastly, I think it is perfectly okay to enjoy a different festivity other than trick or treating - like our wonderful Halloween party at LANK. Celebrating with friends in a familiar setting is the perfect way to have fun without the scare factor. Looking forward to seeing all on the 14th!

Joan

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