Don’t Let Halloween Be a Nightmare: 5 Halloween Success Tips for Sensitive, Anxious, Impulsive Children

October 16th, 2012

If your child is sensitive to sounds, bright lights, large groups, or clothing, or your child is anxious, easily becomes overwhelmed and/or acts impulsively Halloween can be a really difficult time.

As a parent you can help your child manage their feelings and behaviors with these 5 tips:

  1. Be realistic: You know what your child can handle and what triggers their meltdowns. Set them up for success by encouraging costumes and situations that they can manage. Don’t feel pressured by friends or family members to do something you feel would be overwhelming for your child.
  2. Pick a costume that you know will work: Your child is fixated on being Spider-man, but you know the costume he picked at the store will be too tight, scratchy, uncomfortable, and will lead to sensory overload. Find a way to adapt the costume or create something Spidey-like at home that will feel comfortable on your child.
  3. Pick an activity that’s right for your child: Halloween falls on a school night and you know your child will be too excited from trick-or-treating and candy to function at school, and that may cause a tailspin of negative behaviors over the next few days.  Decide what will be the best activity for your child, such as a party on the weekend and handing out candy at home. Whatever you decide be clear, set a time frame, and let your child know the plans ahead of time.
  4. Let them know what’s appropriate and inappropriate: Help your child learn boundaries and expectations by being clear about what behaviors are acceptable and how you will give your child feedback if they are acting inappropriately.  For example, let your child know they will walk together as a group, and if they run ahead you will remind them, and if they choose not to listen you will have them walk next to you (or hold your hand). Clear boundaries can help your child mange their fears and worries, which often looks like acting out behaviors.
  5. Set boundaries with candy: Your child may be thrilled with their bag o’ treats and want to eat as many as they can before bedtime, but you know that will only wire them up for the evening. Tell your child what’s expected with the candy, such as waiting to eat it until they get home, you check it, how many pieces they can have tonight, where the candy will be kept, etc.  Clear expectations will help reduce arguments and before bedtime meltdowns that come from too much candy, being tired, and overstimulation.

CQ Creative Activity:

Create Halloween Rules. On a big piece of poster board discuss with your child the rules and expectations for Halloween night. Be concrete, such as they will not eat the candy until you have checked it, they will walk with a flashlight, they will be in bed by 8pm. Discuss consequences/ rewards for following the rules. If your child is older ask them write down the rules, or you can write them down if you have a younger child. Ask your child to draw pictures on the poster board of each rule and decorate it with spooky images. Do this a few days before Halloween and review the rules before you go out. If age appropriate, have your child sign the rules so you are both in agreement.

If you are worried that your child may need some support do not miss the International Parents & Professionals (IPPC) October Support Call “Is There Something Wrong with My Child? Indicators Parents & Professionals need to be aware of”. Click here to learn more about the IPPC



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