It’s enough to scare anyone really. Especially little kids.
What’s a parent to do? How can you help your child deal with his fears?
It starts with a conversation.
- Ask him what specifically he is afraid of. Help him pinpoint exactly what is scaring him. Is it the trick or treater in the ghost costume? The scarecrow standing in the neighbor’s front yard? The weird displays in Walmart? All of the above?
- Make sure he knows the difference between make-believe and reality. This is often very hard for small kids, but when we take time to explain that it’s Billy underneath the ghost costume and that the scarecrow is really like a big doll stuffed with hay, and that the weird displays in Walmart are just funny looking decorations, then he can start to grasp that make-believe is just a game, not something to be feared.
- Don’t force the make-believe scariness on your child if it still terrifies him. He will eventually conclude on his own that make-believe is make-believe and that it’s really not so scary after all; no need for him so he will get over it right then and there.
- When all else fails, find an alternative. If you think trick or treating or a costume party may be too much for your small child to handle, find a pumpkin patch to visit instead or a fall carnival.
When my kids were small they were afraid of many things–the mascot at the football game, thunder, even Disney characters at Disneyworld!–but with love and patient explanations, we waded through each phase to help them understand what is real, what isn’t and that we are there to love and protect them every step of the way.