While Halloween is full of free candy, dressing up, parties and parades, not all children enjoy the added excitement, sometimes frightening costumes, or change of routine the holiday brings. For highly sensitive children, it can be extremely challenging. Even the weeks leading up to Halloween can be pretty overwhelming to a child.
Behavioral Intervention Group (BIG) is a team of dedicated therapists focused on providing the skills and learning opportunities necessary to improve the quality of life for children with autism and other developmental disorders. In the hopes of raising awareness and compassion, the experts at BIG gave us these five ways to make Halloween a more pleasant experience for highly sensitive children. Click here for more information on BIG’s full-time programs and supplementary services, call (225) 757-8002 or email [email protected]
This Halloween be mindful and accepting of the different challenges children may face. Be kind, be patient and help everyone enjoy the holiday in their own way.
1. It’s okay not to dress up.
Some children are very sensitive to how certain clothes and face paint feel; therefore, they might come to your door in a very simple or nonexistent costume. Rather than draw attention to the lack of costume, just smile and drop a treat in their bag.
2. Help children feel emotionally safe as well as physically safe.
Halloween does not have to include all of the traditional scary activities. You can find local organizations and groups that offer family friendly alternatives such as fun indoor games, hayrides and fun treats.
Leading up to Halloween, most stores will have frightening costumes and decorations in the windows and front displays, so be mindful that this could be a frightening experience for young children accompanying their parents on a visit. Offer extra reinforcement and talk through their fears in an age-appropriate manner.
4. Choose a route that’s scary-strategic.
If you and your family choose to trick-or-treat, go out before it gets dark, and don’t force your child or others to participate at a house that is too scary for them. If they choose to skip a house, that’s OK! Try to avoid certain houses if you know they go all out on the scary decorations and focus on neighbors’ houses where your child can see a familiar face.
5. They don’t have to say trick-or-treat.
Trick-or-treating can involve communication with unknown people in novel environments. Don’t force your child or any child that comes to your door to say “trick-or-treat.” Just smile and offer them a yummy treat.