Child Caring

Not all children equate Halloween with fun

My son is 10 and really gets scared by zombies and all things scary related to Halloween. Last year we went trick or treating with a much younger crowd to avoid a neighborhood house which pays homage to all of the most popular horror movies. The house triggers nightmares for my son. He seemed to have a great time even though he was the oldest child in the group. This year he says he does not want go trick or treating and that he doesn't like Halloween. Should I push him to go? I was thinking of asking a friend of his to invite him in a different neighborhood to see if he'll go. My husband is fine staying home with him, but I don't want him to miss out on the fun of childhood. It will be so soon when he'll be the 'older kid' that parents aren't too happy to have come to the front door to ask for candy. He's still young and should enjoy Halloween. Should I just let it go or try to get him to overcome his fears?

From: Janine

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Dear Janine,

Absolutely do not push him to go. Not every child equates Halloween with fun.

Not to date myself too much, but I can remember when Halloween was a low-key, make-your-own affair. If you opted out, no one thought much of it. Now, it's a commercial blockbuster that you are defining as a crucial moment in childhood!

Halloween is a sensory event that captures sight, sound, smell and taste. A child doesn't have to be hyper sensitive to find it over-whelming in any one of those categories. When they are all added together -- costumes, eerie music, scary stories, dark decorations, masks intended to frighten, not to mention too much candy -- Halloween can be downright unhealthy. I have known school age-kids who dread Halloween for weeks to come, literally making themselves sick with anxiety stomach aches. For preschool kids and younger, the build-up and trappings for Halloween can be the source of bad dreams and irregular behavior.

Spare your son from being one of them. Let him off the hook. He doesn't want to trick or treat? Doesn't want a costume, or wants one without a mask? Thank your husband for staying home with him and encourage the start of a father-son Halloween tradition. You want to help him overcome his fear of all things zombies? Let him just grow out of it.