Halloween is quickly approaching, and just like everything else in the year 2020, this festive holiday may look different for you and your family this year. There is always a fair amount of anxiety and stress that surrounds Halloween because it can be scary and unpredictable for children, but this year fears and anxiety will be heightened in children and adults due to COVID-19 and being around people and germs. Perhaps your family has decided not to trick or treat this year and do a special family activity instead. Maybe you are planning to trick or treat but will all wear masks (costume or not) as a precaution. Maybe you are still undecided as to what your 2020 Halloween will look like. As you begin finalizing your Halloween plans, here are some tips to help make your Halloween 2020 as safe and stress free as possible.
- Set Expectations – Set and communicate expectations to your family and friend group. Make decisions on aspects of your evening such as if you will all wear masks or if you will walk up to a door if another group is there or wait until they leave. How much social distancing is expected of your children? Discuss these topics ahead of time so that your children know what is expected. Let them know that other families and children may have different guidelines but that your family will abide by the guidelines set by your family and will have a blast doing it. Making sure that everyone is on the same page beforehand will help to lower stress and set your family up for a successful evening!
- Decrease Stressors – It will be important to prepare ahead to help your Halloween evening be as stress free as possible. Preparing in advance is key. Make sure your kids try on their costumes earlier in the week, so that they know where everything is and to ensure they have everything needed. Make sure your kids eat a healthy dinner before going out to trick or treat. This will help make sure your kids don’t just eat candy for dinner and experience those sugar highs and crashes. You may also need to limit how much candy they are sneaking out of their buckets. Maybe you need to go ahead and tell them what time you will head home for the evening so that they do not become stressed when you call it a night. Preparing ahead of time is key to decreasing stress.
- Validate Your Child’s Emotions – Halloween can be very emotional for all children. They are excited, yet apprehensive and maybe even scared all at the same time. Your child may express fears at certain costumes or decorations. Validate them when they feel this way. Let them know that it is okay and normal to be scared about strange things or things they may not understand. Letting children know that there emotions are okay, provides them with a sense of safety and security.
- State Reality to Your Child – Children can easily become confused about what is real and what is not on Halloween. As children ask about scary decorations and costumes, be sure to point out the things that are real and the things that are not. Use phrases such as, “That scary witch is just pretend” or “That ghost is not real.” Helping your child understand that the costumes and decorations are not real will help ease their fears as you walk through your neighborhood.
- Be Gracious and Kind – Be gracious and kind to your children. Parents often have high expectations for trick or treating with their kids. Sometimes kids are done after just a few houses. Perhaps your toddler is terrified of every house and costume this year. This can lead to frustration and disappointment. Try to remember that Halloween is for your kids and not for you. If your child is afraid, do not force them to go up to a scary house. If your younger child is melting down, have one parent take him or her home and finish out with the older child/children. Be kind to your kids and be thankful for the time you have with them, even if it isn’t going the way you planned.
The therapists at Waters Edge Counseling hope that everyone has a safe and fun Halloween this year. We hope it turns out to be an evening of making memories with your family, no matter what you do. We continue to offer in-person and virtual appointments to our clients and have current openings. Please give us a call at 912-319-5552 if you need us. We are here for you!