As Halloween approaches, many youngsters may be scared at bedtime after watching a scary movie or seeing a hideous costume. When this happens, parents should reach for a can of anti-monster spray, says Theresa Kruczek, a counseling a Ball State University educator.
"Preschool children and those in early elementary school often have a difficult time with Halloween," she says. "Some may say they understand when things are make believe and when they are not, but it still may not register when the event occurs.
"After a frightening experience children may have nightmares. They really can't tell us too much about the dream, but we can take some precautions to ward off those dreams by using a can of air freshener, otherwise known as anti-monster spray, to keep monsters at bay. Monsters don't like nice-smelling stuff."
Kruczek also advises:
• Limit preschoolers to 30 minutes or less of activities, including trick-or-treating, and only during daylight hours.
• Ask friends and strangers to take off masks to show children that it really is a person under the costume.
• Parents and siblings should never wear masks around youngsters afraid of such items.
• In families with children of varying age ranges, allow each youngster to participate in age-appropriate activities.
• Avoid haunted houses unless the facility offers age-appropriate activities.
"Just because you love haunted houses doesn't mean your 4- year-old will," Kruczek says. "Remember that parents are the best judge of their child's abilities. If they freak out during a scary movie, they'll freak out at a haunted house or when someone in a scary outfit comes by."