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Tips for Keeping the ‘Scary’ Safe at Halloween

Creepy costumes, blood and gore, ghosts, goblins and gravestones all conjure up images of Halloween. As adults, most of us know that Halloween is a relatively harmless holiday that supposedly originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, November 1 was a time to honor all saints and martyrs. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween.


However, most young children cannot grasp the historical and secular background of Halloween like adults. Children see scary costumes and haunted houses and their anxiety can reach a feverous pitch. So how can a parent safely expose children to Halloween without causing an overload of fear and anxiety?

“Parents need to keep in mind their child’s developmental level and their sensitivity to things that are novel, scary or different during Halloween. Halloween can be a time for developing family traditions and fun memories, but celebrating it with young children means introducing it to them at their comfort level,” advises Kathy Dumain, Orange County Therapist, Psy.D., L.C.S.W.

Dumain offers these tips for parents:

Caution With Costumes
If your child has sensitivities to clothing, such as masks or other dark characters, skip the costume and go for a cute outfit in Halloween colors or a T-shirt.

Event Guidelines
Start with wholesome activities and related themes of Halloween, such as pumpkin patches and fall festivals. Halloween parties and haunted houses should be attended with caution as there are a number of scary themes and activities. Parents should be cautious about these events and pay close attention to the age recommendations and guidelines provided by the venue.

Talk It Out Before
Parents should talk to their child before Halloween events and activities so the child and parent have a better idea of what to expect. As a parent, you should be able to gauge your child’s reaction and ‘comfort level,’ and go from there.

“Parents should be aware that children often overestimate their bravery in these situations. Scares can be fun, but some scares are only appropriate for adults or older adolescents,” concludes Dumain.

Kristal Zacharias is the mother of two beautiful, vivacious girls, and wife of a hunky husband who works in the action sports industry. For the past 15 years, Kristal has worked for several Fortune 500 companies as a professional communicator. Follow her journey at Clearly Kristal or on Facebook and Twitter.
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One Comment

  1. I think it’s great to be prepared should your child be of the more senstive ilk. Pumpkin patches and caramel apple making are sweet and non-scary options for small children. Thanks for writing a post for parents of sensitive toddlers!

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