The night of goblins and ghouls, princesses and super-heroes is right around the corner. And for many parents, a child’s first Halloween is a time to celebrate and go all out in order to make it a memorable night. Let’s face it, Halloween is fun! Halloween is a time for make-believe and fairy tales and of course, candy!
Unfortunately, for a young a child however – Halloween and all the dressing up, tricks and pranks associated with it can also be a frightening endeavor. It is entirely up to parents to utilize common sense and to take cues from their child so that they don’t become overly scared during Halloween activities.
If your child is under the age of 8, you should partake in Halloween activities that celebrate the fall season, and the happy insignias of the holiday such as pumpkins, scarecrows, happy looking bats, cute black kittens and other non-spooky symbols of Halloweens. While you may be looking forward to taking your child to their first haunted house, or haunted trail – doing so too early, can come with grave consequences of sleepless nights for you.
Experts also recommend that adults talk with young children about Halloween leading up to the big day. Explain to them that just as they are enjoying dressing up as a fire fighter, their favorite princess or super-hero, there are other people that like to dress up as scary characters. The point is, that children should understand that the costumes and make-up are pretend. Children seem to come naturally into this world with tentativeness to ghostly themes and ghoulish creatures. Many shows, even those designated for young children normally have a ‘bad guy’ or nemesis. Just like the sneaky fox on Dora is not a REAL threat, neither are the people dressing up as vampires and such.
There are a few ways to avoid freaking your children out completely during Halloween. One way, is to make sure that you take the little ones trick or treating early in the night, even before it is completely dark. Most of the older kids who dress up in scary costumes like to come out after the sun has gone completely down. You can also consider going to a Trunk or Treat being hosted by a local church or organization, where kids trick or treat in a festival style rather than going house to house in their neighborhood. Festivals, often held in the center of town where business owners hand out candy and take pictures, have bounce houses and do face painting is another great way to celebrate the festivities in an age appropriate way. Additionally, some homeowners go all out when it comes to adding the spooks and chills factor to their delivery of the candy. If you see a house playing creepy music, with dry ice smoke and hear other kids screaming or running from the door – maybe this is a house you should skip until your child is older. After all, they have plenty of time to enjoy the more ‘adult’ aspects of Halloween!
Of course, Halloween and the approaching fall season is also a great time for families to visit a pumpkin patch, take a hayride, attend a bonfire, or walk in a corn maze as well. Plan an outdoor family party and have everyone dress up as their favorite character. Hold a costume contest at home. If you are part of a group of parents that have small children, rather than going trick or treating, you may consider hosting a Halloween themed party that is completely kid friendly and where you know that your children will be surrounded with people that you trust.
The sheer idea of filling up a bucket of candy, getting to play dress-up, going to school wearing a tiara, or wielding a magic shield is enough to get any young child excited. Even so, it is important that parents teach their children to have manners, especially if they are going door-to-door trick or treating. Tell them to say please and thank you, and to only accept (or take) one piece of candy from the host. Also, as a safety pre-caution instruct your children that they should not open and eat any candy that they receive until mom and dad have time to check the loot when they get home. Any candies that look unwrapped, or re-wrapped, or that are not sealed in original packaging should be thrown away. Trick or treating in neighborhoods where you know most of the people is the safest way to ensure that you are receiving safe treats!
If you have a baby who cannot walk yet, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t able to celebrate your child’s First Halloween together. Even so, realize that carrying your 6-month-old baby around on your shoulder in full costume (while they are likely screaming because they hate the lion hate or itchiness of their costume) and collecting candy that they likely are not even able to eat yet, makes you look sort of the fool. In this case, allow your child to dress up, take lots of pictures, visit with neighbors, hope that some people have lollipops and wait until they are a little older to fully introduce them to all the fun and thrills that Halloween has to offer.
Done right, and keeping age consideration in mind – every Halloween, after your child’s first Halloween can be an exciting time of year for your family. Whatever you do, avoid trying to push your child into situations that may frighten them, or that they are not old enough to understand.