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3 Ways to Reduce Your Child's Halloween Fears

Posted 10-22-2014 05:13 PM by ChristaIB
Updated 10-22-2014 05:40 PM by ChristaIB

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Halloween can be a scary time for some children. Attractions, decorations, costumes, haunted houses, parks and even trick or treating can stir up intense fear. When you have a terrified child on your hands, it can be difficult for them and your entire family to enjoy the popular holiday. Consider taking these few steps, and perhaps you can minimize their concerns before October 31 arrives.

1. Quit the Teasing

As an adult who has spent years coping with the frights of Halloween, you may have forgotten what it was like to be a child during this time of the year. Some parents unfortunately tease their little tikes, believing that laughing at them will minimize their fears and help them to realize that there is nothing to be scared of. Some parents may even feel that they are toughening them up. The fact is, bullying or forcing a child to face his or her fears unwillingly can make things worse, and can cause deep-seated fears that extend well into adulthood. So, take your child’s distress seriously. Sit down with him or her and inquire about what’s causing their anxiety and stress, then work to demystify it.

2. Be an Example

Children often look up to their parents and want to emulate them. They also look to them for comfort. If your child is seriously afraid of Halloween, one of the best things you can do is show them that there is nothing to fear. Let’s say you visit a haunted house: Go through it first, then let your child see that you’ve come out the other side fine. Smile and reassure him or her that you're okay. Also, demystify any scary features of the haunted house (e.g., that the "dead" body is a plastic decoration with a battery-operated motor). Your child might also be afraid of the costumes he or she sees while trick-or-treating. If so, a good idea is to kindly ask the person to lower their mask and reveal their real face underneath to show the child that this is just a playful dress-up.

3. Teach Your Child How to Face Fears Head On

No parent really wants their child to be terrified. Halloween can be a great opportunity to teach your child how to face their fears head-on and conquer them.

As October 31st draws near, fears that your child has had in the past may return. Some children are afraid of the dark or believe that there is something in their closet or under their bed. Sleep in the same room with him or her for a couple of nights. If something goes “bump” in the night, jump up, snatch the closet door open and confidently face the darkness. Tell it “you don't scare me!” Ask your child to stand by your side and yell the phrase with you. It may sound ridiculous, but this exercise can go a long way in easing your child’s trepidations. When he finds out that nothing happens he or she will start to be more confident.

Also, you can turn on the lights to show how scary shapes in a closet or room fail to relay the same menace in the light. The key here is to reveal their true banality.

When it comes to children overcoming Halloween fears, it can be difficult. But if you approach them as an opportunity to separate fact from fiction, the fears can be lessened. The earlier you begin the better. If the issue is very serious, and your child suffers from panic attacks or symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder around the holiday, you may want to consult with a professional therapist to discuss other effective techniques.

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