If you have kids, they’ve probably already started talking about their Halloween costume. This year, my four year old grandson has moved from wanting to be a superhero to being something scary. He’s beenĀ  googling “scary costumes”. I think that’s a good way to get a young child used to the idea of something scary. It gives us the opportunity to talk about how people dress up and pretend.

Even while watching “Goosebumps” we took it as an opportunity to teach the difference between real and pretend. A year ago, as he watched with his older cousin, talking about it helped allay his fear. As he’s transitioned from being “Spidey-focused” to something more scary, one thing that helped get him used to the scary costumes was attending ComicCon. He could see grownups in scary costumes and we could talk about how it was just a regular person inside.

You might not be able to go to a comic convention, but here are some ideas that might help a child get used to the idea of a scary costume (not scientifically studied, just one grandpa’s opinion). If you want to skip grandpa’s advice and go directly to the experts, click here.

  • When watching movies or shows talk about how it’s just pretend. Most small children understand pretend from very young age. They pretend to feed their dolls. They pretend that they are superheroes. From even 18 months or so, kids are pretending. It’s up to us to explain that the scary characters are just pretend too. That someone is pretending, just like they do.
  • Take them to an event with costumed people. It could be a play, a party, or a play date with kids in costume. Any event where they are wearing costumes, talk about the scary characters, too. Repeat often that they are just regular people who are only pretending to be bad.
  • Take them to a costume or party store and try on masks or costumes. You don’t have to buy anything, but it’s a good opportunity to talk about masks, makeup, costumes and pretend. Funnie and I are lucky to have lots of costumes to show our grandkids. You might have to play dress-up with them, at home or at a store.

Those were Pappou Jimmer’s tips. From The Online Mom you can learn more. Their basic tips are

  • Stay calm
  • Validate their experience, don’t belittle it
  • Observe their actions and body language
  • Ask if they have any questions
  • Give age-appropriate detail and explanations
  • Redirect – leave if you have to.
  • Go ahead and “spoil” the ending. Tell them someone will jump out at a haunted house
  • Don’t beat yourself up – learn and grow.

Have fun this Halloween!

By Jimmer