Last night, while we were carving pumpkins on the kitchen floor, which is the extent of our Halloween decorating these days, we got a bit nostalgic remembering how we used to go all out. We had the usual decorations - fake spider webs, rubber hands, jack-o-lanterns. But for a few years our son took it on as a major project. He made headstones from styrofoam, set up music and fog machines, and engineered a garbage can with a lid that would pop up and reveal a skeleton. This was remotely controlled by a switch inside the house, connected by a wire. My job, since I was often the one on home duty, was to make sure the fog and scary music was drifting across the headstones, and when kids got to a certain spot on the sidewalk to press the switch and pop! The skeleton would jump up out of the garbage can. I learned quite quickly that this was more scary than fun for a lot of kids. Some little ones wimpered. Others clung to their parents. I tried to soothe them, but I was dressed as a witch, so I don't think I helped at all. I became very selective, trying to figure out which kids could handle the scare and which ones couldn't.
Age obviously has a lot to do with it. Young kids don't know enough about Halloween to understand that it's all fake and supposed to be fun. Some older kids might have sensitive temperaments and be easily startled or cautious. How should you handle the situation if your child gets scared?
We have tips from our partners at Infant Mental Health Promotion at the Hospital for Sick Kids. One idea is to prepare your child for the day by reading Halloween books to your child in advance. It's a good way to get the conversation going about what your child might see or do. We got some ideas and book recommendations from our TVOParents Book Club.
And here's the podcast.