It’s no secret kids love to play dress-up, so it’s a natural fit for Halloween to be their favorite holiday. But, the fright-factor adults love about Halloween can be downright scary for kids.
Let’s start with decorations. If you’ve ever been down the Halloween aisle with your kids and the mummies raised their arms and the ghosts started shrieking, you know today’s decorations are meant to spook. But, there are plenty of Halloween standbys that most kids don’t find scary – spiders, painted pumpkins and black cats are a good place to start.
Then there are the costumes. Remember that young minds have a hard time separating make-believe from reality, so witches with green faces, zombies with blood and (especially this year) scary clowns might be too much for their imaginations to take. Pick costumes of favorite cartoon characters or furry animals. If your child freaks because they suddenly have big ears or a tail, Halloween-themed pants and shirts will do.
In my experience, some kids love trick-or-treating and some just don’t. It’s kind of like making a bet with 50/50 odds. I say take your chances, but set your expectations low. Kids change from year to year, so just because they spent the entire time last year hiding behind your legs while you asked for candy, it may not be that way this year. Put yourself in their shoes, the act of trick-or-treating is essentially asking your children to walk up to a stranger and ask for candy – a hard concept for kids to wrap their head around. Try trick-or-treating while it’s still light outside or make a quick night of it by only visiting the neighbors you are familiar with. Or you can skip the trick-or-treating and go to a Halloween event geared toward young kids.
If you prefer staying home on Halloween night, you’ll still have to decide if you want to pass out candy. If your kids are easily spooked, having all sorts of ghouls and goblins ringing your doorbell probably has about the same odds for success as actual trick-or-treating. In that case, make Halloween a fun family night. Make a pumpkin-shaped pizza (it’s easier than you think!), dim the lights and snuggle up with your kiddos to watch It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.