Halloween is a time when sensitive children can feel overwhelmed. Whilst some children love to have their ‘scary button’ pushed, for other children it’s overwhelming. Here are some tips for helping your anxious child at Halloween:
Sign up for our free Newsletter stuffed full of ideas, competitions and offers.
PS Did we mention it’s free?
Lucy dissolves into tears and refuses to go into the shop as she spots the Halloween display.
‘Don’t be silly, it’s just a costume!’ your older child snorts.
Why one child can be so much more anxious than others is hard to understand, but it doesn’t change the situation.
Right now your child is emotionally flooded and trying to reason with her doesn’t work.
You Might Also Enjoy 7 Useful Tips on How to Build Self Esteem in Your Child
Helping Your Anxious Child at Halloween
Firstly, I’ll share some thoughts that can be helpful for us, as adults to keep in mind.
‘What’s in the way is the way.’ Instead of seeing this anxiety as a problem that is in the way, consider it as the way – an opportunity – to deepen connection and communication.
A strong emotional reaction can be seen as a negative, or it can be seen as an opportunity to expand the family’s emotional intelligence. Our feelings are never wrong, it’s what we do with them that counts. Look for opportunities to chat about times when we might feel anxious and how our anxiety can be helpful.
For example, when we see something strange or that looks scary, we may feel anxious because we don’t know if this is safe. Our anxiety keeps us alert, watching out for any danger. If we didn’t feel anxious we might not keep ourselves safe.
So here are a few tips to help your child when anxiety threatens to overwhelm.
You Might Also Enjoy 4 Of The Best Ways To Teach Your Child Independence
#1. Acknowledge It
Rather than dismissing her experience, acknowledge it. For example, ‘You don’t like that scary witch’ if you see a shop window display. Right now it’s her reality, even if we don’t experience it.
#2. Don’t Label Them as an Anxious Child
Instead of referring to your child as an ‘anxious child’ rather name the emotion, for example, ‘are you feeling anxious?’ or ‘are you feeling scared?’. In other words, the emotion is just an experience right now, it’s not who the child is.
#3. Validate The Child’s Feelings
For example: ‘I understand you don’t want to go into the shop, and that makes sense because you think the picture of the witch is really scary’.
#4. Be Your Child’s Advocate
Be your child’s advocate if older children (or adults) tease her about her reaction. She is already struggling with feelings that overwhelm her, without being shamed or excluded.
#5. Anxiety = Powerlessness x Uncertainty
From ‘Emotional Equations’ by Chip Conley. When you help your child to have some sense of power or certainty, you significantly lower the anxiety. For example, ‘You could hold my hand and we won’t go near the witch, or we could go to another shop that doesn’t have such scary decorations.’
And if enough parents let shopkeepers know we’re not shopping there because of the scary decorations, they’re likely to diminish the ‘gruesome’. Why should our children be exposed to upsetting images that alarm them!
#6. Read Or Tell A Story
Find a story book, or create your own stories, that share an example of a child (or animal) who learns that it’s okay to feel anxious sometimes.
#7. Anxiety is Contagious
Make sure you check in with yourself that your own anxiety is contained. Perhaps you’re getting stressed about your child’s stress. Focus on your breathing if you sense your own anxiety level is rising. When we steady our breathing, we steady our thoughts.
Download my FREE fridge poster and video now on the Koemba website.
What have been your experiences with a child who easily feels anxious? What has worked for helping your anxious child? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!