You may be excited to dress your child up and parade her around for all to see, yet for children under 3, Halloween can be a scary day. Take this advice to make her first Halloween a boo-tiful one!
- Peek-a-WHO? Avoid a Costume Drama
Most young children have trouble differentiating between fantasy and reality, which can make not only people dressed as witches and ghosts seem terrifying, but even a life-sized Winnie the Pooh. Explain to your child that both kids and grown-ups will be playing "dress-up" on Halloween. To help him understand that costumes are just make-believe, it's a good idea to experiment with costumes and make-up about a week before the big day. Let your child try on different outfits and make-up and look at himself in the mirror so he can see first-hand that he is still the same person inside even if he looks different outside. Likewise, seeing mom or dad go through the motions of putting on and taking off a costume will help him understand that it isn't magic that transforms the kids and grown-ups he knows into princesses and robots.
- The Big Night
If you decide to go out trick-or-treating, make sure to go when it is light outside. The dark is scary for many children; Halloween night tests the courage of even the bravest kids with all the ghouls and goblins roaming the streets. Plan your route beforehand and make sure you go to houses that are friendly (no one answering the door in a scary costume). Keep your route short — under an hour — and close enough to home that a speedy retreat can be made if he finds the festivities overwhelming.
A great alternative to taking your little one from strange door to strange door is to hold a small party at home. Introducing your child to the holiday in a small gathering will assure that Halloween leaves a positive impression. Another way your little one can experience the fun of the holiday is to have her help hand out treats. Make sure you look before you open the door and decide whether the outfits outside are appropriate for her to see.
- Take Care with Kids' Scares
If your child is frightened by any aspect of the holiday, it is important that you remove him from the scary situation, acknowledge his fear, and reassure him that he isn't in danger. Don't tell him to "stop being afraid" or that "there's nothing to be afraid of." Instead, try to find a way to take the scare out of whatever aspect is upsetting him. For instance, if he is scared of jack-o-lanterns you might explain how they are made, or blow out and relight the candle inside, while also telling him that it's okay not to like them and that they can't hurt him.