Reduce Halloween Fears & Anxiety

For many kids, Halloween is a favorite holiday, perhaps right up there with Christmas and Easter. Halloween may be popular because it presents the opportunity to dress up and be someone or something else--perhaps a super-hero like Spiderman or a mythical creature like a unicorn. For some kids, Halloween is a favorite because, for one night, they can get as much free candy as they can carry.

Many people don't realize that not everyone shares these pleasures, and there are kids who actually fear Halloween.

Fear of Halloween

Fear of Halloween can have several causes. Some people could have social anxiety, and find the thought of hanging out with a large group of kids in costumes, or approaching a stranger's house, frightening. Other people could have specific phobias, like a fear of masks, clowns, or monsters, which make Halloween especially terrifying.

There are also the threats to safety, whether rumored or real, such as abduction, food tampering, or even food allergies to certain kinds of Halloween treats.

If you, or your child, experience fear around the Halloween holiday, there are some things you can do to assuage fears and relieve anxiety.

Identify the Fear

Identifying exactly what is causing fear may seem like a no-brainer, but the funny thing about fear is that we often feel it, yet don't really know where it's coming from. You might know that Halloween gives you the heebie-jeebies, but not realize that it's seeing people in masks that make you nervous because you can't see their faces. Once you discover the root of the fear, you can take steps to either avoid the thing that scares you, or be better prepared to cope with it.

Control Your Surroundings

One of the biggest sources of fear is the feeling that you have no control over your surroundings. Many Halloween decorations and gizmos are designed to jump out at you unexpectedly. With the crowds, the loud and frightening decorations, and the anonymity of costumes, Halloween can be very chaotic. Here are some options for taking control of your surroundings:

Tips for Trick-or-Treating:

  • If you're going out in your own neighborhood, get to know your neighbors before beggar's night, so you can put a name to the faces you and your children encounter.

  • If you go to another neighborhood, consider going there in advance and planning your route.

  • If your kids want to run ahead of you, have them stay in a group and set a limit for how far they can run ahead. For example, let them go two houses ahead and then wait until you catch up.

  • Have your kids wear costumes that don't cover their faces. For example, if your child wants to be Spiderman, use face paint instead of having him (or her) wear a mask.

  • Put reflective tape on costumes and carry a flashlight so that drivers can see you a flashlight will also allow you to see what goes into your kid's bags.

  • Make sure your child does not eat any candy until you have gotten home, and have had the chance to inspect it.

  • Have a plan for where to meet up if you get separated, and what your kids should to do if they encounter any problems.

  • Remind yourself, and your child, that you can head home at any time. If either of you starts to feel uncomfortable with trick-or-treating, you can ditch it in favor of one of the trick-or-treating alternatives instead.

Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating

  • Host a party at your house, or at a religious or community center, instead of going trick-or-treating. By bringing Halloween inside, you can control the environment, who has access, and even set up rules concerning costuming and dress codes.

  • Go to a kid-friendly event or venue, such as a pizza parlor or movie theater, to participate in more regulated Halloween festivities.

  • Stay in and have a family movie night with pizza, popcorn, and plenty of candy. Be sure to turn out the porch lights, or put a sign up if you are not planning to hand out candy to the neighborhood kids.

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