Afraid of trick-or-treating? Help kids cope with Halloween phobias

Halloween, especially to younger kids, can be pretty scary whether the lure of sugary treats overrides that fear or not. Some kids even develop particular Halloween phobias. For example, my toddler was fine with pretty much everything but masks. He didn't fully understand that all those masked trick or treat goers were actually people and not ghosts, skeletons, and other frightful things. One of my other children was afraid of knocking on strangers doors. As parents, however, there are a few steps you can take to help your child cope with fear and keep Halloween fun.

Do a Halloween test-run:

Before the big night, try to provide a smaller test run, so to speak. A fun option is to have family and friends come together in costume to carve pumpkins prior to Halloween. This helps you as a parent identify things that may scare your child and gives your child a better idea of how Halloween works.

Prepare your child:

Second, talk and read about Halloween and trick-or-treating. The more your child understands about Halloween the less likely they are to be caught off guard by something scary. Be sure to focus on the fact that all those scary things are not real. For some kids this may even take a demonstration, for example, with my mask-phobic child, we had to show him that there were faces under those masks.

Start with houses you know:

On Halloween, it can help to start off with houses your child already knows such as relatives and friends. In many cases, a child that is afraid on Halloween quickly warms up to the holiday as their candy bag swells.

Trick-or-treat with a group:

In addition to starting with familiar houses, try to find a group of children your child knows to travel around the neighborhood with. Not only is trick or treating more fun in a group, seeing the other kids having fun and not afraid reassures your child that everything is OK and fun. Be careful not to compare your child to the other children though. Statements like, "look none of the other kids are scared," could make your child feel like a coward.

Watch closely:

Finally, even with all the preparation and comrades in the world the fact is sometimes kids get scared. Pay attention to your child's behavior and reactions throughout the night and catch nervousness before it blossoms into freight with explanation and your own supportive presence. If things get to be too much, consider calling it good for the year or consider finding a carnival or harvest festival to retreat to.

You may also enjoy:

Helping a Child Deal with Being Afraid of the Dark

Keeping Kids Safe While Trick or Treating

Halloween Alternatives to Trick or Treating