Among the goblins, ghouls, and other ghastly beings that emerge during the month of October is something truly haunting: a child who’s been traumatized by something she’s seen.
Children may react negatively to costumes, decorations, or movies that were unfamiliar or too scary to process. Bad dreams, stomachaches, and headaches can indicate that the child was rattled. They may become more clingy or nervous, suddenly be afraid of the dark, or not want to go trick-or-treating, RaeAnn says.
She says parents should watch their child’s cues for what may be upsetting, be aware of what is age appropriate, and not force them to take part in Halloween traditions that are beyond their comfort zone. It’s also important for kids to know that they can say “no” to situations or media they think are frightening, RaeAnn says.
RaeAnn shares these additional tips for parents:
- Don’t minimize their fear reaction to a specific thing that may have happened. Recognize with the child that things can be scary around Halloween time. Provide comfort and reassurance that, as a parent, you are there to keep them safe.
- Continue to supervise and do your best to ensure that they aren’t exposed to additional things that may continue to cause fear. If a child shows reservation after they were spooked by something, it’s important for adults/caregivers to be mindful of the child’s environment.
- If the symptoms persist, a parent can always reach out to their child’s pediatrician to ensure there aren’t any medical concerns that may be causing any of the child’s somatic complaints (headaches, tummy aches). Caregivers can always contact The Village to get guidance with helping your child overcome the fear.
RaeAnn Kaczmarski, MSW, LCSW, offers in-home and outpatient therapy at The Village Family Service Center's Moorhead office. She is trained in Child Parent Psychotherapy and has experience and training in play therapy and The Nurtured Heart Approach.