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Preparing Young Children for Halloween

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While many adults associate Halloween with the nostalgic fun of their youth, for young children, Halloween can be an overwhelming and overstimulating experience. 

“Dressing up in costumes, being out at night, and asking strangers for candy are all things that are definitely out of routine for young children,” explains Vivvi’s VP of Learning Rachel Duda.

That doesn’t mean that Halloween is off-limits for your family. With a little preparation, Halloween can be an exciting night for even the littlest trick or treaters. So brush off that adorable costume and check out our best tips to prepare young children for Halloween:

  • Read books about Halloween to prepare your child for what’s to come. Some of our favorites are Eek! Halloween! and Halloween is Coming, which focus not just on the Halloween fun, but also on what a child might expect on Halloween night.
  • Let your child practice wearing their costume. Dressing up is not only a fun way to practice pretend play, but a practice run will prevent any uncomfortable surprises on Halloween night.
  • Remind your child that this holiday is all about pretend. Use language like “Did that scary costume make you feel nervous? It’s okay to feel scared, but it’s all pretend. Do you have ideas of what would make you feel better?”
  • If your child is younger, start trick or treating early and be home before it gets dark. Nighttime–especially if your child is usually nervous about the dark—can add another level of anxiety to an already high-tension night.
  • Don’t force your child to trick or treat. Asking a stranger for candy is definitely out of the routine for a child, especially if they’re in the “stranger-danger” stage or have been taught not to talk to strangers. 
  • If you choose to trick or treat, decide on just a few houses to go to, rather than expecting to be out all evening. Part of Halloween is managing grown-up expectations, too!
  • Some children may be more comfortable giving out candy at their house or apartment rather than actually trick or treating. This is a great way children can get into the Halloween fun from the safety of their own front door.
  • Have a few Halloween games or arts and crafts activities ready to go at home. For some children, that might be more fun and engaging than the act of trick or treating.
  • Follow your child’s lead. If they are excited and ready to go, great! If they are more reserved or anxious, it’s okay to go home and try again next year.

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