After a young child watches a scary movie or is frightened by a Halloween costume, parents should reach for a can of anti-monster spray before bedtime, says Theresa Kruczek, a counseling psychology professor at Ball State University.
“Preschool children and those in early elementary school often have a difficult time with Halloween,” she says. “Children this age often struggle with separating fantasy from reality and a result they may get confused and think the scary elements of Halloween are real.”.
“After a frightening experience, children may have nightmares. They really can’t tell us too much about the dream, but we can take some precautions to ward off those dreams by using a can of air freshener, otherwise known as anti-monster spray, to keep monsters at bay. Monsters don’t like nice-smelling stuff.”
Kruczek also advises:
Limit preschoolers to 30 minutes or less of activities, including trick-or-treating, and only during daylight hours.
Ask friends and strangers to take off masks to show children that there really is a person under the costume.
Parents and siblings should never wear masks around youngsters afraid of such items.
In families with children of varying age ranges, allow each youngster to participate in age-appropriate activities.
Avoid haunted houses unless the facility offers age-appropriate activities.
“Just because you love haunted houses doesn’t mean your 4-year-old will,” Kruczek says. “Parents are in the best position to know what frightens their child and to help them cope with Halloween. If kids freak out during a scary movie, they’ll freak out at a haunted house or when someone in a scary outfit comes by.”