Why is it that some children just can’t cope with the sensory overload at Halloween and go into ‘fight, flight or freeze’ making the Halloween break the most difficult of the year? The reason could be a retained Moro reflex so here are some tricks & treats for parents to help keep Halloween more fun and less horror for your child and keep your sanity over the scary season.
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Dressing up, candlelit pumpkins, truck-loads of treats and spooky decorations waiting around every corner. This might be enough to send shivers down your spine….and not in a good way!
Some kids have a retained Moro Reflex which will make them very sensitive to noises and lights.
What is the Moro Reflex?
The Moro reflex is a primitive reflex infants are born with to help them to survive in the world. When the Moro reflex is not suppressed by 6 months of age, a child will be over sensitive, over reactive, over stimulated, have poor impulse control and may exhibit social and emotional immaturity.
Add to that fireworks, bangers, itchy costumes, scary faces, walking around in the dark, a sugar high and the result is a real Fright Night with an out of control child.
I have four uniquely sensitive children of my own, and here are a few tricks and treats I have learnt over the years to make Halloween the fun night it can be.
#1. Get Out in Nature
Every day during the midterm and on Halloween itself, spend as much of the day as possible outside before getting dressed up. Autumn is a great time to go to a park or a forest or simply out in the garden, to indulge all of the senses.
Sensitive kids often need sensory input for all of their senses and mother nature is the best therapist there is. Stamping in crunchy leaves, collecting smooth, shiny conkers and spinning with the Autumn winds.
The more sensory input a child receives during the day, the less likely they are to seek it out in the form of picking a fight at home. Studies have shown that time in nature can reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Make time for nature EVERY DAY.
You might also enjoy reading Autumn Walks for Families in Ireland
#2. Better Bedtimes as Clocks Fall Back
The last Sunday of October is the Sunday the clocks go back, usually the first weekend of the Halloween midterm break. This is a blessing in disguise.
Dark evenings, means earlier bedtimes and everyone sleeps more. It’s natural that a well rested child is a better behaved child.
You may also find this article useful: 7 of the Best Ways to Create a Good Bedtime Routine & Avoid Meltdown
#3. Get Moving
The secret to happy children (or just happier, if that’s all you can aim for) is in movement. The part of the brain concerned with movement, balance and co-ordination is the same part of the brain concerned with emotional regulation.
Try to incorporate movement into the day with balance, co-ordination and sequence activities to develop a stronger brain.
#4. Take a Break
Children (and adults) should never sit for more than one hour at a time. Children under 5 need active movement for 3 hours per day for brain development.
It’s easy to let the hours slip by without noticing, particularly the sensitive child who finds Halloween overwhelming, might find more comfort in sitting with headphones on for hours.
#5. Have Winding Down Time
Sensitive children are more sensitised to blue lit screens. Their bodies are wound up by blue light and they find it difficult to sleep. Have the 2 hours before bed a ‘no screen’ time, winding down time.
Sitting on the couch watching TV far away is much better than having a tablet 3 inches from your nose. Reading or playing games on the floor is even better if you can manage that.
#6. Avoid Itchy Costumes
Consider any dress up that can be done with the child’s normal clothes and add something to it to create a costume.
Sensitive kids hate itchy uncomfortable clothes and will be a nightmare for the whole time Trick or Treating, if they are uncomfortable.
#7. Have a ‘Sweets Plan’
It’s inevitable that the children will eat far more treats on Halloween night than any other night of the year.
Decide what you want to do with all the sweets…give them 2 days to eat what they want/can, or lighten their load and keep the sweets for Christmas or another occasion (they are great for filling the Christmas shoe boxes, just check the dates on the packets).
You might also enjoy reading 12 Homemade Halloween Costumes
#8. Get Active The Morning After
Make a decision right now as to what you are going to do the next day. Climb a mountain, go on a family walk, pay someone to come and take the kids out for the day!
They need to reduce the glucose coursing through their veins with exercise and drink lots of water to flush it out.
#9. Increase Vitamin D Levels
Essential for a healthy immune system as well as healthy bones. Get outside in the free days before Halloween and soak up the last of the Vitamin D.
Go to a pumpkin patch or on a spooky Halloween walk or go collecting pine cones and keep them for Christmas decorations.
The point is to get out in the middle of the day to maximise the sun’s low rays for Vitamin D production.
From now on consider a Vitamin D supplement for the whole family until the clocks spring forward again.
You might also enjoy reading How to Get More Vitamin D Into Your Child
#1. Get Outdoors
I’ll repeat this trick as a treat, as it is the MOST important trick and treat. It will save your sanity. Whether it is warm, cold, raining, windy or snowing get the children outside for 2 hours every day.
That’s 2 hours less time to mess up the house, 2 hours less time to eat their Halloween haul of sweets and 2 hours of relative peace, as they always seem less noisy outside! The effect of nature will relax you too and you’ll all return home in better form.
#2. Get a Better Night’s Sleep
The chances are if you have a sensitive child, you are sensitive. You will be more attuned to the loss of light with the shorter days.
Go with it, allow yourself to go to bed earlier and simply be quieter.
Avoid blue lit screens, phones, tablets, computers for an hour before bed for a better nights sleep.
#3. Get Up Earlier
Maximise the daylight hours, even when it feels like torture to tip your toes onto the cold floor, your body will thank you for the extra daylight and you’ll be ready to go to bed earlier in the evening.
#4. Enjoy Dark Cosy Evenings
Indulge yourself on the darker evenings, with the children in bed earlier. Light the fire, put your feet up and give in to the start of hibernation.
Allow the darkness to envelop you, it has many health benefits such as lowering heart disease, lowering diabetes and lowering rates of depression.
#5. Lose Weight Without Trying!
Allowing your body to give into its natural rhythms by going to bed earlier, avoiding blue light late at night and sleeping more produces the right cocktail of hormones that allows you to feel full and satisfied.
Studies show that extending the day with artificial light and not sleeping in total darkness make the body crave sweets and carbs, of which there are plenty lying around at Halloween, to indulge any midnight cravings!
#7. Check out Hygge
Go with the Scandinavian notion of ‘hygge’ The Danish art of cosiness. In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. Perfect for the darker evenings.
#8. When all else fails M-O-V-E!
20 minutes of movement a day is all it takes to improve coordination, better balance and best of all those high emotions are better controlled to ensure you keep Halloween more fun and less horror!
Over to you now. Do you have any tips to add to help keep Halloween more fun less horror? Please share them with us in the comments box below.