Spooky spiders, loud fireworks and creepy witches. Huge bonfires, ghosts, skeletons and things that go bump in the night. This time of year might be fun for a lot of children but, for others, it can simply be too scary.
So, what should we do as parents if our child finds Halloween and bonfire night too frightening?
Sunflower’s experts offer the following advice to parents who have anxious children:
Show understanding of your child’s fear
It is important for your child to know that fear is a legitimate feeling. Fear is a useful emotion and helps us to assess danger. Rather than telling your child they shouldn’t be scared, tell them you can understand why they find the witch scary. You can also own up to some of your own fears.
Talk about the facts
Once your child’s fear has been accepted, you can talk about the facts together to help them overcome it. For example: “Yes, the witch does look really scary – how do you think she made her face green like that? Do you think that is her real hair or clothes or maybe just a silly costume?”
Put them in control
Ask your child how they would like to celebrate Halloween or bonfire night. Fears are a lot easier to deal with when we feel in control. Rather than trying to force your child into doing something they are scared of, get them to choose – you could offer suggestions such as: “Would you like to watch the fireworks from the car?”
Facing the fear
Remind your child of another situation in which they were scared but faced their fear – with great results. Maybe their first day of school? Or a party they were nervous about going to? Maybe when they tried diving into a swimming pool for the first time…
Less scary ideas
It is worth remembering that there are ‘no bangs’ firework displays around for children who are unable to deal with loud noises. Trick or treating can also be made a lot less scary; perhaps just set up a treat hunt in the house or just arrange to visit friends and swap sweets that way.
If you would like to help your child to be less anxious and more confident, contact the Sunflower Trust on 01483 531498.