Happy Halloween! We are excited to get the opportunity to hit the streets with our kids again and make the best of trick or treating! For a lot of kids, Halloween means getting to dress up, run around with friends, start the holiday season, and get the best sugar-high of the year- but for those with anxiety disorders, behavioral health challenges, and sensory challenges Halloween can redefine “scary.”
How can we help our kids through Halloween night? Here are some great options:
- Comfy Costumes! Kids with sensory challenges and anxiety disorders may feel really uncomfortable if even a single sock is out of place, making the night more miserable than fun. Costumes that are weather-resistant, warm, and soft are great options, and when they really want that costume that you know will be taken off in the middle of the fun, long underwear is the way to go! Keeping the costume away from skin contact and creating a barrier is easy and cozy!
- Have a plan of attack. Map out where you will be going and give your kids some say in where they want to stop. Houses in the neighborhood known for jump scares and haunted houses may be a no-go, but the houses they know have full-sized candy bars? Oh yeah. Let’s stop there!
- Set some expectations. Some costumes may provoke a negative reaction, some houses may have the worst candy on the block, or maybe a friend’s costume is a little more intricate than theirs. Set expectations: always say thank you, understand that what we see is not always real- especially on Halloween, and sometimes we are disappointed, and that’s okay! Disappointment is a part of life, and then it continues, whether we like it or not.
- Understand your kid’s viewpoint. Sometimes we forget, as adults, that scary things we see on Halloween are very real to our kids. Remember how easy it was to pretend? Our kids have very blurred lines between reality and fantasy. What they see, seems very real. But kids closely follow our reactions, don’t overreact but also don’t underreact. As a kid, I remember when I was scared, my parents would call me silly for thinking something so obviously fake to them was scary. Acknowledge the feeling of being scared and then remind them that what we see is not always what is real.
- Have an alternate plan. Although the fun of Halloween is so exciting for some kids, it doesn’t mean we all have to find it fun. Stay inside and carve pumpkins, watch some Charlie Brown, do a coloring craft activity, or allow your kid to participate in handing out candy instead. There are so many other options than trick or treating- ask your kids what they would find fun, they may have some great ideas!