Halloween decorations are in full force in stores and around town. You may notice your preschooler feeling a little more fearful than usual with the spooks and goblins lining store shelves.
If your preschooler is on the younger side, this might be the first year they became truly afraid around Halloween. One of the social emotional developmental tasks of the preschool years is to learn to cope with common fears. With some gentle guidance and understanding, we can help our preschoolers navigate this extra spooky time of year.
Bats on the brain
Around age 4 and 5, you may notice your child getting frightened by things they previously paid little attention to. A picture in their room or shadows on the wall may suddenly turn into scary monsters, bugs, or evil characters. At this age, children are learning to tell the difference between reality and fantasy, so those lines can be blurred. They are learning to cope with more complex fears, led by their growing imaginations. Common fears for this age include:
- Being alone
- The dark
- “Scary” or “bad” people
- Imaginary creatures
- Characters from movies or cartoons
The underlying theme of many childhood fears is safety. Children need to know that the adults in their lives will keep them safe until they can keep themselves safe, no matter what. Halloween brings many opportunities to reassure our kids of their safety and maybe have some fun in the process.
Helping make Halloween less scary
The concept of Halloween is pretty complex for a child: They might like the idea of getting candy, but don’t understand why people are in costumes and walking door-to-door in the dark to ask for it. There are multiple ways to tackle Halloween fears.
The first is to simply talk about it.
- Have a conversation with your child about Halloween: “Halloween is a day where kids and grownups like to play dress up. During this time of year, we are going to see lots of costumes and decorations—some silly, some spooky. Just remember, they are all pretend.”
- Let your child know that everyone gets scared at times, even parents. Share a story of when you were scared and how you faced your fear.
- Use Halloween-inspired picture books to prep your child for what to expect on Halloween and during the month of October.
For more tips and to read the full article, visit lanekids.org.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). Parenting Now is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now please visit their website (https://parentingnow.org/) or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org