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Halloween And Kids : The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Halloween used to be a pretty simple and straightforward holiday. Kids would typically dress up before dusk on October 31st, often in homemade costumes, and then go door-to-door for a couple of hours, trick-or-treating for candy that was usually hard to come by during the rest of the year. These days, Halloween feels more like its own industry, with elaborate decorations, costumes, and candy on the market as early as the beginning of August.

Therefore, it’s understandable that kids and their parents are feeling a bit more stress and pressure to make Halloween a bigger celebration than ever. Here are some ways to navigate and appreciate the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to Halloween.

The Bad

Halloween can bring about some conflict between parents and their kids in two areas: costumes and candy. Not only are costumes more elaborate and expensive than ever, but they are available so early that it’s hard to imagine kids not changing their minds a dozen times before Halloween arrives. To avoid conflict with kids about which costumes to get and when, it’s best to set some guidelines early, such as:

  • Making a list together of appropriate costume choices (maybe nothing too scary or “sexy”)
  • Setting a deadline for a final costume decision (and sticking to it)
  • Choosing an agreed-upon back-up costume in case the first choice is unavailable
  • Creating a reasonable budget for costume and accessories

Compromise is the key when it comes to kids and costumes. Parents should avoid judging their child’s choices and allow them some flexibility if they wish to dress as something a bit scary, popular, silly, etc. Costumes are an important part of Halloween and it’s healthy to encourage kids to express themselves and/or pretend to be something different for a brief amount of time.

Halloween candy is another opportunity to avoid conflict through compromise with your children. Of course, most parents (and possibly dentists) would prefer that kids avoid sugar and empty calories entirely. However, part of the fun of Halloween is indulging in treats that you normally wouldn’t have the rest of the year. If you know that your kids will be receiving candy at a Halloween celebration, you can reduce the amount of sugary options in your house by not purchasing additional candy for them before the holiday. After Halloween, you can establish rules for how many pieces of candy your kids can have each day and reinforce that such treats are a special circumstance. Halloween is also a great time to make sure everyone has a new, clean toothbrush and uses it properly!

The Ugly

Unfortunately, Halloween can cause a bit of anxiety, both for parents and their kids. Some parents may worry about their children interacting with strangers when going trick-or-treating or even the safety of organized gatherings such as costume parties and/or community sponsored trunk-or-treat events. This is understandable for many reasons, especially since the COVID pandemic. However, there are precautions that parents can take to alleviate their worries about kids participating in public Halloween activities, such as:

  • Attend events with them for supervision
  • Remove any tripping hazards from costumes
  • Check candy and dispose of any open, damaged, or ripped packages
  • Ensure children wash their hands thoroughly after being out
  • Remember that Halloween is as much about fun as it is about safety

For some children, Halloween can create anxiety in terms of scary costumes, decorations, and stories about monsters, ghosts, etc. If your child is fearful and/or anxious about Halloween, you can minimize and help them overcome these feelings by focusing on fun aspects of this holiday, such as decorating pumpkins, taking daytime walks in the neighborhood to see the fall colors, and having a treat or two. Allowing your child to take the lead and maintain their comfort level in celebrating Halloween will keep them from feeling overwhelmed. Most importantly, do not force your child to participate in Halloween activities or tease them about their fears, as this is sure to result in negative effects.

The Good!

Overall, there are many more good things about Halloween than bad or ugly. This holiday is part of what makes fall, and childhood, special. Halloween is a chance to make fun memories, create new family traditions, and expand the imagination. No matter how you celebrate, participating in Halloween gives children a chance to explore different roles and identities through costumes, interact with others by making social connections, and let their personal expression grow.

Halloween is also an excellent opportunity for parents to connect with their children by reminiscing about their own childhood experiences of dressing up or trick-or-treating. In addition, parents can utilize many aspects of Halloween to address their child’s potential fears. For example, you might mention that “monsters” made you nervous or fearful as a child, but that you grew to learn they are just part of the pretend of the season. Ultimately, the good news is that with some planning and strategy, you can eliminate a lot of the bad and ugly so that everyone can enjoy Halloween together.

Halloween is a time to encourage your child to have a healthy, resilient, and independent sense of self. This is enhanced when parents offer activities and experiences that help their kids master different skills. At Cognisprings, we support parents and their children with games, books, puzzles, and more that are thoughtfully designed, educational, and unique. Our products promote imagination, growth, and self-confidence. They allow families to create memories of togetherness and support a child’s understanding of the world around them. We believe in providing options for screen-free fun, healthy personal, intellectual, and cognitive development, creativity, and exploration.