Help Take the Fright Out of Halloween Fun
I danced down the sidewalk in my pink, sparkly ballerina costume with my candy swinging back and forth inside my plastic pumpkin. With every house I visited that Halloween night, I became more excited about the prospect of adding to my collection of candy.
But as my family and I walked up the front steps of the house on the corner, I could see that it was different from the other homes that were decorated with smiling pumpkins and fall wreaths. This house was adorned with skeletons, bloody corpse-looking figures and a pumpkin with sharp teeth. I rang the doorbell anyway (I didn't want to miss any of the candy), and as the door opened, a man in a frightening mask screamed at me and the other children coming to beg for their share of the sweet loot.
I screamed back, dropped my bucket and ran, full-speed down the street.
While I have since healed from this traumatic experience, it makes me leery of scary decorations when it comes to my own children. Although we can't avoid every frightening aspect of the spooky holiday, there are ways to make Halloween less scary.
Skip Haunted Houses
Teens and young adults might be okay to participate in the frightening fun of a haunted house, but these houses of horror might be too much to handle for young children who often can't separate fantasy from reality.
Think about your costume
If you enjoy dressing up and participating in the festive fun of the season, then choose your costume carefully, especially if you will be around small children. Avoid scary masks or costumes that evoke a sense of death or dismemberment (no zombies or grim reapers please).
Turn scary situations around
Even if you avoid scary costumes and decorations, there's a chance that you and your little one will still encounter these elements. If you do come across a hairy monster or masked villain, try to turn the situation into something less fear-provoking. Have the person take off their mask and show the child that they are just wearing a costume, or relate the monstrous get-up to a character from a Disney movie or story book.
If you encounter a fearsome creature or scarily-decorated home and your child wishes to walk away or skip a particular house, then give them permission to do so. Forcing them to face these scary people or places will only increase their anxiety about them.
Think about your own reaction
The idea of knocking on the door of a home decorated like a graveyard might be your worst nightmare, but if your daring little one wants to give it a go, then don't discourage their curiosity by telling them they will be frightened by their surroundings. If you stay calm, cool and collected, they might not even notice the ghoulish environment around them.
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About the Author
Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of two energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys running around with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects and home decor.