One of the joys of being a parent is getting to do the fun kid stuff all over again. Stuff like sharing Easter baskets, making Valentines, and dressing up for Halloween. You can hardly wait to dress up your nine-month-old in that lion costume and parade her around the neighborhood, right?
But you aren't remembering Halloween from the perspective of a two or three or four year old. You remember it from when you were nine or ten years old, when it really was all fun and there wasn't much that was scary to you. The bloodier and yuckier, the better. It was a holiday filled with abandon and doing all the things that a kid's not supposed to do: Go out at night; knock on strangers' doors; beg for candy...and eat candy...lots of it! What's bad?!
Halloween can be really scary for young children-the twos and threes and even some fours. In a parent's excitement about her child getting to experience the holiday, she forgets to consider the child. It was so much fun for you, of course it will be fun for him.
While preschoolers love to dress up-it doesn't get much better than throwing on a cape or clomping around in your mommy's heels- they are just getting a handle on the difference between what is make believe and what is real. And for young toddlers in particular, the line is clear: "it's real and I am scared!" Halloween brings lots of challenges to the child's growing awareness of what is pretend.
Think about all the parts of Halloween that really scare young children
...just to name a few.
Here are some suggestions for making Halloween more fun than fear.
Just because you loved Halloween doesn't mean your young child will...right now, anyway. He will have lots of years to celebrate. Let him grow into the holiday as his awareness of all that it is unfolds with age.
Happy Halloween, I hope.
Originally published in October 2009.
Betsy Brown Braun is the best-selling author of the award-winning books You're Not the Boss of Me and Just Tell Me What to Say. Betsy is also a child development specialist, parent educator, multiple birth parenting consultant, and founder of Parenting Pathways, Inc.
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