Halloween is just a week away, and parents want their kids to have a good time. But how can they keep their children safe? How do they know what’s too much for their little eyes?
Vinay Saranga M.D., a child psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry offers the following tips.
Let your kids have more fun than usual
There are plenty of times when as parents, we have to really enforce some rules. Of course, you need to keep an eye on your children and make sure they are safe, but Halloween is a fun holiday and your kids deserve to have a good time. This should be one night of the year where they really get to be kids, eat candy, and get a little crazy.
Desensitize your kids before Halloween night
For younger children who are easily scared or appear nervous about Halloween, desensitize them ahead of time. When you eliminate the unknown surprises, children always do better. Show them pictures of people dressed up. Take them to a Halloween store in the daylight and show them decorations, masks and costumes. Explain to them what happens on Halloween. Show them movies where people are trick-or-treating.
Keep it age appropriate
Halloween can be a little overwhelming and scary for some kids. Remember that what doesn’t bother your 13-year old may terrify your four-year old. It’s best to keep things age appropriate and a great way to do that is to trick-or-treat with groups of friends of the same age. As parents, you need to remind your older kids that they need to go easy when younger children are around.
Don’t push kids who aren’t into it
If your children don’t have a desire to go out trick-or-treating on Halloween, let them be. Some kids just don’t get into it and that’s perfectly acceptable. Parents can encourage alternatives to trick-or-treating. Maybe your children prefer to stay home and handout candy. Maybe they want to have a small party or get-together of close friends. Perhaps they just want to stay in and watch TV. Gage your children’s level of interest and go with what makes them happy.
Know when to intervene
Sometimes children don’t want to look scared in front of their friends for fear of being made fun of. Some kids will hold it in and push themselves to experience more than they can handle. This can lead to nightmares, increased stress and anxiety. If you notice your child is struggling or appears scared, know when to call it a night.
Have fun but be safe
Halloween is all about having fun, but never forget basic safety. Don’t ever enter a stranger’s home no matter how nice they seem. Always trick-or-treat in groups. If you have younger children, parents should always chaperone. Never eat any candy that is opened or appears tampered with. It’s dark so keep a flashlight, glowsticks, or a phone with you at all times.
Talk it out
After the night is over and your kids are finished trick-or-treating, talk to them about how they feel. Are they scared, nervous or upset? Do a quick emotional check before going to bed to make sure they are not shaken up or feeling disturbed in anyway. If something is bothering them, talk it out until they are feeling better.
Fun without being disrespectful
Halloween is a time for your kids to have fun, but teach them to never be disrespectful or mock people with physical or mental health conditions, disabilities or other impairments. Stick to costumes and decorations around monsters, ghosts, pumpkins, spider webs, and more.