Help! My Kid Is Afraid of Halloween

Jeanne Sager
Toddlers & Preschoolers

scary halloween costumeThink Halloween, and what comes to mind? Ghosts? Monsters? Witches? Is it any surprise some kids are absolutely terrified of Halloween?

Just one look at the kid with the Scream face mask dripping with "blood" makes me want to curl up on the couch and cry. Then again, I was the kid who was scared of her best friend at the nursery school Halloween party. She was dressed as a witch, and there was nothing the teacher could say to the 3-year-old me to make me stop shaking in my bumblebee costume.

So now for the good news.

Your kids are completely normal (and so was I). 

"It's not uncommon for small children to be fearful of costumed people," Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, pediatrician and editor in chief of Pediatrics Now tells The Stir. "They don't understand the distinction between reality and fantasy, and even seeing mom or dad put on a costume can be frightening."

The fear will manifest itself differently with each kid, Dr. Gwenn says. Some kids will ask to stay home and skip the holiday entirely. Some of the at-homers will put on their costume and proceed to eat through your pile of goodies for the neighborhood kids, even though they won't actually come to the door to watch said trick or treaters. Some want to get dressed up, but they'll hold on fast to Mom or Dad's hand while trick or treating, and they refuse to talk to even their closest friends who are dressed up.

Also normal: the kids who want to go trick or treating but are afraid of putting on their OWN costume.

You can read stories and watch movies to prepare them, but in the end it's a holiday for the kids. So let them lead the way

"I advise parents to roll with the child's wishes. If they don't want to dress up and go trick or treating, go with that," Dr. Gwenn says. "The holiday should be fun!"

Is your tot costume-phobic? How have you made Halloween fun?

Image via USACE Europe District/Flickr

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