Halloween brings out lots of excitement for kids. School parties. Costume decisions. Candy. Lots and lots of candy. And, of course, people dressed in all black with a bloody mask jumping out at you when you least expect it. If you’re taking your child trick-or-treating this year you can’t predict what you’re going to find on your route.
For some kids, the unpredictability is exciting. They like to be jumped at, tricked, scared, and are able to go home and instantly fall asleep, even after a bucket full of candy. And then there are those kids who hide behind parents, don’t want to go door-to-door, and who beg to go home, even if it means they don’t get any candy.
If this sounds like your child, try the following:
- Start the evening out with going to someone your child knows, who lives in a house your child has been to and is comfortable being in. Tell this person that your child is afraid beforehand so they don’t do anything unpredictable, even if it is just to have a little fun.
- Tell your child where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone. This helps kids get a sense of what to expect. A lot that happens on Halloween is unpredictable so giving them a specific plan helps them feel safe.
- Give your child the option of dressing up for Halloween but staying home to give out candy. This allows kids to participate while not having to leave home. There is this part of the brain called the amygdala, better known as the fear center, and there’s just no rationalizing with it. If your child can’t get out the door, instead of dragging him along crying and being miserable give him the role of handing out candy at home. He’ll still get the experience of Halloween and may have a good enough time to step out of the house and go trick-or-treating next year.