By: Mallory Bushee, MSOT, OTR/L
Halloween can be such an exciting experience for some kids but also such an overwhelming or nerve-racking experience for others. If you and your child are wanting to feel more comfortable about the upcoming thrills and spooks of the holiday consider these tips to help minimize the potential for meltdowns or fears.
- Provide your child with clear expectations of what they will likely see. It can be overwhelming for some kids to share space with their classmates on a typical school day, now add costumes and masks with lots of extra excitement and imagine how overly stimulating that could be. Try to show your child pictures or videos of what they can expect to see on your Halloween adventures. You can even have a rehearsal to practice appropriate responses to what they might hear, see, smell, feel, etc.
- Expose your little super-hero or kitten to his or her own costume. Costumes, face paint, or other methods of disguise can be undesirable to a child’s sensory system. Even if it’s a costume your child chose, he or she still might have some hidden or unknown concerns about the costume that may not come about until the big night. Gradually introduce them to the costume, keep it hanging out in the open where they can consistently see it, try parts of it one at a time working up to trying on the whole costume and perhaps showing it off in an at-home parade a few nights before trick-or-treating.
- Many people are becoming more flexible in what they give out for trick or treating but Tootsie Rolls, Snickers, and lots of other sugary treats will likely still be involved. If your child has dietary restrictions or if you’re trying to limit sugar intake, I suggest making it a fun trade-in game at the end of the night (and you can always add in some math skills). For example, for 3 bags of Skittles, 2 Laffy Taffys, and a Twix you can get one hot wheels car or a bracelet.
Halloween isn’t just a scary scavenger hunt for sugar. It can be a fun social experience for children, but then again for some it may feel too far out of their comfort zone. Consider some of these tips if your child is looking for some encouragement to give Halloween a try the year.