Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

The day is here - the day when parents finally get rewarded for their efforts of decorating their children and parading them around to recieve "oohs" and "awws" only to go home with their grumpy-dumplings and toss them into bed as they crash from their sugar-highs and into sweet dreams...and then get to RAID their children's loot like pirates on the hunt.  Hooray!  CANDY!!!  Free candy that only cost us our sanity and patience.  It's a glorious day, isn't it?

I do love Halloween, actually.  I was raised in a household that celebrated the fun of Halloween, and I'm so glad that I got to dress up and be silly and indulge my sugar-tooth.

Today, we live in a different world.  Halloween is celebrated with safety on the brain - with harvest festivals and "trunk-n-treats" and only the rare and exceptional neighborhoods get to hand out carefully-parent-inspected candy to the trick-or-treaters.  Gone are the days of scouring the neighborhoods without supervision or running around town with your friends after dark.

Sometimes, it can feel like the scariest part of Halloween falls into the lap of the parents these days!

It can quickly become easy to want to overprotect your children, I completely understand.  Certainly there is nothing wrong with the adaptations that have been made to this holiday to ensure the safety of our kids or to increase the fun and diminish the "evil" nature of Halloween.  But, reality is that there really is scary stuff in this world, and I think Halloween can be a great time to talk to your kids about it.

Evil exists.  Bad things happen.  And, if we don't stop and take time to explain to our children in a calm and safe manner that life can get scary sometimes, we can be setting them up for some real fears later on.  (Don't worry - I promise to not go all Debbie Downer on you here...)

Halloween is a great time for a young child to safely encounter scary situations that might raise questions for them as well as emotions like fear or anxiety.  This is a great time to help your child build resiliency that will serve them well in the long run.

The great thing about resiliency is that it can be learned, and we as parents have the opportunity to model and nurture this important trait.  I found a great article by M. Tartakovsky regarding children's ability to develop resiliency, and she offers 10 tips that can help every parent navigate their way through these tricky times:

  1.   Don't accommodate every need.
  2.  Avoid eliminating all risk.
  3.  Teach them to problem-solve.
  4.  Teach your kids concrete skills.
  5.  Avoid "why" questions. 
  6.  Don't provide all  the answers.
  7.  Avoid talking in catastrophic terms.
  8.  Let your kids make mistakes.
  9.  Help them manage their emotions.
  10.  Model resiliency.
So, this Halloween, HAVE FUN!  But, as you are keeping your kids safe from harm, don't be overly concerned if they encounter a scary sight or sound now and then.  It's bound to happen at some point, and when it does, you can use the frightful moment as an opportunity to build your child's character and help them grow.

And...if you're in too much of a sugar-coma from all the Snickers you've snuck from your kid's plastic pumpkin bucket...well, just hit play below and relax.


1 comment:

  1. So good! You would enjoy Carol Dweck's research on growth mindset. And there's an awesome Ted talk on "grit" by Angela Duckworth. Same idea and really compelling research.


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