Here are thoughts about children and Halloween from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) website:
“As Halloween approaches, Marilou Hyson, PhD, former associate executive director at NAEYC, talks about young children’s fears. Much of Marilou’s research and writing has focused on early childhood emotional development.
What is too scary for children at different ages? Each child is different, so it’s difficult to give hard and fast rules about what may be overwhelming for all children at different ages. The most important thing a grownup can do is to know an individual child and watch for her reactions to potentially scary images and situations. Pay attention to what she seems very worried about, avoids, or talks about, which can be clues that something is scary. Parents are often surprised by what frightens their child.
Our grandson Sam, who’s 13 now, was really frightened at the age of 2 by a life-size sculpture of a moose at an outdoor exhibit. We rounded a corner on a trail and there it was! Sam was visibly scared, staring and rigid, and he wanted to get out of there as fast as he could. When we got home, he pored over the map of the exhibit and recalled each sculpture, but when he got to the moose, he said, "We sip [skip], okay?" and went on to the next one…
Handling fears related to Halloween Halloween has become a kind of adult holiday (which was not at all true a few generations ago), and with adults and teens dressing up as figures from horror movies and going to extremes to scare other adults (a harder task than scaring a little kid), we need to make sure there is a firm line against violent/bloody/gory and generally horrific images. Not just because they are "too scary" but because they do not represent the values or images that we want our children to be exposed to. Pretend play is children's main way of making sense of their world. Through play, children can master fears and difficult experiences by reinventing them in a playful way. If Halloween can be another opportunity for children to engage in well-supported pretend play, then it has the potential to support children’s development.”
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