Helping Kids Overcome Their Halloween Fears and Phobias
I know I love the Halloween days when I was a child. I dressed up like Hopalong Cassidy with my friend and headed to collect candies by cutting through the cemetery near my house. We were scared and ran as fast as we could until I fell into a grave-hole being prepared for the next day. I screamed for help and my friend was able to help me out. We dashed for safety and did our “trick or treat” that evening. An unforgettable event! I still love science fiction and horror movies just as children today love the fantasy and fun dressing up in costumes and Halloween. As you know, during October, however, the television networks begin running their annual horror flicks. Remember, young children still have trouble differentiating real life from make-believe and many scary movies should be “off limits.” Today’s horror movies are much greater than in the 60’s!
Children watching these movies do develop fears and are upsetting. Adults and children wear terrifying masks or costumes today. Today’s trends have changed as many children go to malls, church events and not door-to-door which protect the children from those scary sights and sounds that could upset them.
By nature, some children seem to have more fears than others. “Fear” from the dictionary refers to the feeling experienced in response to a tangible danger such as an angry dog or falling into a grave-hole. Then there are “Phobias” which are excessive or exaggerated fears of specific objects or situations. Common childhood fears (or phobias) include a fear of the dark, dogs, heights, spiders, and storms. Jean Piaget noted that ages two to four ischaracterized by reason being dominated by perception. This explains why preschoolers are often afraid of the dark and imaginary creatures such as monsters. He continues that around the age of six or seven, children’s thinking begins to become more logical. Not surprisingly, around this age, children usually lose their fear of imaginary creatures but may become worried about other types of things such as school performance and social relationships. It is important to encourage children to tell you about their fears.
Part 6 will continue to look at “Common Fears of Toddlers and Preschool Children”