For many young children, this Halloween will be the first time they see a tombstone on a lawn, a skeleton hanging from a tree, and people they are familiar with, appearing to be someone they are not.
Young children have a difficult time distinguishing between what’s real and what’s not. In fact, until children reach the age of 5, the boundaries between reality and fantasy often remain blurred. They may believe the ghosts and ghouls are going to “get them” or that the walking mummy wondering around the neighborhood is “real.” It’s this reason that some children, especially sensitive ones, may find October 31 to be scarier than it is fun.
If you’re a parent of a child pre-school aged child or younger, consider shifting to a not so scary celebration this Halloween. From less spooky costumes to kid friendly arts and crafts, the little ones can have Halloween fun, without the fright.Try incorporating some of these 10 Not So Scary Halloween activities into your holiday celebration. They’re guaranteed to rate high on fun and low on fright.
1. Donuts on a String. Hang small, powdered donuts from a piece of heavy string. Fasten each strung donut to a long line of string. Have an adult hold each end of the line level with the children’s mouths. Encourage the children to try to eat the donut using no hands. Older children may enjoy this activity while wearing a blindfold. If children become frustrated, the donut can be moved to a plate to make eating it hands free easier.
2. Pin the nose on the pumpkin. Create a large pumpkin from orange poster board. Add the eyes and mouth using a black marker. Cut out triangles from black poster board, place double sided tape on the back and hand them out to the children. Let each child have a turn sticking the nose on the pumpkin. While younger children may simply enjoy adding the missing piece to the pumpkins face, older children may enjoy this activity while wearing a blindfold.
3. Decorate Halloween cookies. Bake sugar cookies in the shape of pumpkins. Provide frosting and sprinkles for the children to decorate their own cookie. This is a fun project that doubles as a festive treat. Children can decorate additional cookies, place them in a cellophane bag, tie them closed with ribbon and give them out as special gifts to family and friends.
4. Visit a farm. Consider incorporating the fall harvest theme into your not so scary celebration. Many farms have pumpkin patches for children to select their own pumpkins. Some even have petting zoos, hay rides, train rides and more. The natural and often colorful scenery at most farms makes the perfect backdrop for fall family photos.
5. Decorate pumpkins. While younger children may be too young to carve a pumpkin, they can certainly color, paint and add embellishments like stickers and sparkles. Yarn can be glued on for hair and felt can be used to create hats or other accessories.
6. Host a not so scary Halloween party. Incorporate games like Duck, Duck Pumpkin, read age appropriate Halloween themed books and decorate and snack on pumpkin shaped sugar cookies. Make costumes optional.
7. Hide the pumpkins. Cut out small pumpkins from orange poster board and decorate with black marker. Hide the pumpkins outdoors. Give each child a small bucket to collect all the pumpkins she can find. Give each child a turn at hiding the pumpkins.
8. Attend an alternate Halloween event. Many churches and community centers host free harvest celebrations geared towards the families in their communities. They often have games, activities, food and candy for kids of all ages to enjoy.
9. Organize a neighborhood trunk or treat. Create a theme and invite people you know to decorate their car trunks. Invite everyone over at a set time to park their cars in your driveway. Have the children go from trunk to trunk to collect individually wrapped candy. This allows you to have control over who your child collects candy from and what type of Halloween décor your child is exposed to. Another creative spin on this is to have family members decorate their bedroom doors and hand out candy to each other.
10. Create your own costumes. With a little non-toxic face paint, a bin of dress up clothes and a lot of creativity, you children can create a costume that perfectly suits their personality and level of spookiness they’re comfortable with. Have a parade and award prizes for different costumes. You can give prizes for the most colorful costume, the costume with the most sparkle and more to be sure that all children are recognized for the hard work they put into their costume selection and design.
With some careful thought, a little creativity and advance planning, you can create an age-appropriate Halloween celebration that your child can truly enjoy.
Dr. Caron Goode is a psychotherapist and spiritual coach, author of 12 books and inspirational speaker. Dr. Goode has become a well respected leader in the parent coaching industry as the founder of the Academy for Coaching Parents International that trains students in the empowerment model of parent coaching, Dr. Goode has shared her holistic approach to achieving parenting success and managing family relationships in magazines, newspapers and radio. Her most recent books include The Art and Science of Coaching Parents and Raising Intuitive Children.
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