Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Children & the Scary Sights & Sounds of Halloween

Children & the Scary Sights & Sounds of Halloween By: J Gardener

As autumn approaches, the signs of Halloween are everywhere. Nowadays, by late August, merchants are already gearing up for one of the most lucrative retailing seasons of the whole year. And, it's no longer just about kids trick-or-treating on one night in late October-Halloween is now an occasion whose celebration spans weeks and generations, with parties, "haunted house" attractions, and fairs, full of all kinds of scary scenes.For adults, it's easy to forget, sometimes, that the whole theme of the Halloween phenomenon is built around real fright. Young children, though, can get the point, all too clearly. Ghosts and goblins, witches and monsters-terrifying in every aspect-are broadcast at them nonstop for the whole season. And many younger children don't have fun, being frightened.So, how should you deal with your children's fear?Most experts agree, the most important thing you can do as a parent is acknowledge the fact that your child is afraid. Disregarding or downplaying that fear will teach your child that she has real feelings she shouldn't discuss with you, because you don't consider them legitimate.Encourage her to talk about her Halloween fears, and take the opportunity to discuss your own childhood fears. Remind her of the things she was once afraid of, but isn't, anymore; she learned to master those fears. Discuss the things which frightened you, at that age. Perhaps together, you can develop a strategy for dealing with these current fears.On the other hand, you needn't be overly protective of your child. We all have things we're afraid of, you can tell her-even grownups-and most of the time, we're perfectly safe. Fear, especially fear of things we don't understand, is a natural part of life.At the same time, don't force your child into frightful situations, just to teach her a lesson. Remember, she counts on you for protection as well as love, and that trust, once broken, is hard to win back.Your town probably has Halloween events for families which place an emphasis on the fun part of the holiday-the costumes and the candy, the games and the comraderie. This can be a great way to assimilate her into the traditions of Halloween, enjoyed by lots of her friends.Best of all, let her know that all the "scary" stuff is just meant for fun. Underneath all the masks and the sheets are just regular folks, playing around. Let her "scare" you, with a costume or a painted face-turn it into a game and take turns, "scaring" each other. Before long, you'll both be laughing too hard to be frightened, anymore.Fear is a real emotion for young children. Dealing with it can be a real opportunity for families to grow together, emotionally. And once the fear factor of Halloween is conquered, it's a holiday that can develop long-lasting family traditions, and lifelong-happy-memories.

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