First of all, let me say honestly, I love Halloween but even I was a little freaked out upon a visit to a local party supply store. I was looking for Maddie’s Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz costume and when I realized I had to walk through the part of the store with the creepy clown, the headless zombie and the “cannibal area” – seriously—I was a little spooked. How do we help children understand these scary things are pretend while still being loving and supportive?
- Listen to children. If they are telling you that they are scared or acting fearful, put on the brakes. Even though you understand that it is pretend, they might not.
- Discuss pretend things with your children. Puppets are helpful in explaining this idea. Showing children how you make the puppet move with your hand but it isn’t real can be a good experience for starting to understand the difference.
- Present fun dress up clothes. Discuss how it is fun to pretend to be a doctor or a ballerina. Introduce making a mask out of a paper plate and let children play with it.
- If you are planning to trick-or-treat, choose a place your child is familiar with and try to locate places that trick or treat in the day time. It is sometimes easier to confront a mummy when you can see it coming. Hershey High Meadow Campground hosts trick or treating for camping families during the day.
- If something does scare them, help them to talk with you. Ask what was scary specifically and talk about pretend vs. real . Help them to recall earlier conversations you had and give them a hug.
- Read a book about being afraid. Books really help us discuss issues that are challenging to us as adults and difficult for children to get a handle on. Join us at WITF on Tuesday October 26 at 6:30 to talk about this very topic! Call me at 717-910-2806 for more information.
There are lots of opportunities for fun events and fall festivals this month. Whatever experiences you have with your child or the children you work with this month, enjoy it together.
How do you help your children talk about challenging topics? Share your comments and let’s continue the discussion!