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Halloween fears – What can you do to help your child manage?

Halloween references are all around us at the moment, with spooky decorations and products in the shops and more adverts and trailers for scary films on our smart TVs and screens than usual. Children are often interested in exploring things that are a bit frightening and lots of children have fun dressing up and exploring things that are a bit scary during Halloween. But some children may find this too frightening.

We’ve got some tips for what you can do to help your child to cope with those fears.

Listen

It’s a very normal response for your child to be scared, and listening to them is a really powerful way to validate this feeling and help them feel safe to articulate their fears. Rather than telling them not to worry, you can help them to learn to manage these feelings by listening and reflecting to them, for example you might say “The things in there do look scary, don’t they?”.

Remind them you are there with them

The simple message that you are there is so important in reassuring them that they are safe: “That does look scary, but they are pretend and I’m here with you.” By doing this you are embodying the safety they need to feel. Some children, especially younger ones, might need some explanation as well: “It’s people dressing up to try to look as scary as they can – that horrible face is a mask but it’s just pretend, so we are safe and I’m here with you.”

A note on scary films and games!

When children watch “scary films” (or play games) that are meant for much older children or for adults it can seem very exciting and grown-up to them. But watching/playing them can keep children awake at night, worry them in the daytime, and make them muddled about what’s real and what isn’t. Watching violence on screen can make them feel like this is OK in real life as well, or that this is what the grown-up world must be like. They’re not old enough to be able to manage these films/games, even though they might want to watch or play them.

Here are our tips on what you can do as a parent: 

  • Try to check out exactly what your child is watching or playing and use the age ratings to help choose films or games.  
  • If you’re not sure if a film or game will be OK, check it out before your child watches/plays it.  
  • Where possible try to watch anything that might be a bit scary with your child, so that you can talk to them about anything that worries or confuses them.  
  • If you have children of very different ages, try to make sure that the older ones can watch their films/play their games when the younger ones are not around.
If you need emergency support right now or feel a crisis building please remember you are not alone. You can find more helpful resources below.
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