I also wanted to add some additional insight into dealing with scary Halloween decorations.
This is top of mind for me because I've been dealing with an incident that happened last week.
I took my children to an early Halloween party and someone had set up a scary zombie decoration, like the one in the pic below.
When you got near it, it shook and growled (don't ask my why this was set up at a children's event 🙄).
My two year old was terrified.
And saying things to a child that age like, "it's not real" or "it's just pretend" are pretty much meaningless.
Children this young don't understand abstract concepts. They can only process the concrete - it's right in front of me, it's moving, and I'm scared.
He was still talking about it days later.
So Here's What I Did...
At first my instinct was to continually reassure him and minimize the situation - it can't hurt you, it's ok, it's just pretend etc.
But I happened to be re-reading The Whole Brained Child this week when I came across their strategy for helping children work through traumatic or stressful experiences.
Rather than just reassuring our children that everything's fine or trying to distract them from what happened, we can help them process their feelings and thoughts by talking through what happened - for as long and as often as they need to.
Think about it, when you experience something scary, worrying, or stressful, you typically want to talk about. This helps us process and work through the experience.
We can help our children do this too, even if they have a limited vocabulary.
If anything, this helps children with a limited vocabulary even more because we can give them the words they're looking for.
Re-telling The Story
This isn't a complicated process. When your child brings up the scary or stressful event, even just using a few words, help them retell the story.
So in the case of the zombie decoration, every time my son brought it up, I would say things like, "That's right, we saw the zombie on the ground outside the party. What happened when you got near the zombie?" and "Yeah, he moved around and made a growing sound. You didn't like that, right?", etc
In the last few days, our retelling of the story has become more neutral and less focused on the scary parts - simply, "I saw a zombie at the party", instead of repeatedly asking the question "where is the zombie?" or "is there are zombie outside?"
If you're interested in learning more about this, I highly suggest checking out the first chapter of the book -TheWhole Brained Child. In it, they go over other situations where this approach is helpful for young children.
And maybe this won't be an issue for your family this year. Some children are unfazed, or even amused, by cackling witches or spooky clowns.
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