Summer is a distant memory. Kids are back to school and settling into their routines. As October begins, images of pumpkins, costumes…and candy…are popping up seemingly everywhere. It can mean only one thing. Halloween is upon us.
For parents, October typically means the addition of several Halloween-related activities, such as buying or making costumes, attending school and community events, shopping for candy and other treats, deciding which kid parties to attend, deciding how the night of Halloween will work, etc. Any one, or several, of these activities can push a child to his or her limit, causing over-stimulation, anxiety, meltdowns and tantrums. These “scary” behaviors can be stressful for the whole family and leave parents dreading the month of October.
Here are a few strategies and tactics that can help families to manage–and even enjoy–holidays, such as Halloween, that are exciting for children.
Spend time with your child planning ahead
Thinking of costume ideas together well in advance of Halloween can help to alleviate last-minute stress. It’s a great opportunity to encourage your child’s creativity by brainstorming ideas for the costume, as well as a chance to do some “teaching in the moment” as you discuss whether the costume will be safe and comfortable. Talk with your child about how the costume will come together—can it be made at home with items you already have, or will it need to be purchased? Who will participate in making or buying the costume? Agree on a date that you and your child will make a final decision about the costume and when it will be ready. Set limits on how much money you’re willing to spend or how much time is reasonable to make the costume.
Make a plan for Halloween night
Talk to your child before going out on Halloween night about your expectations or family rules, including how many treats s/he can have, who he or she can go trick-or-treating with, what time is bedtime and what to do with the candy your child brings home. Children of all ages have great ideas, so try to involve your child in these discussions. In fact, you may be surprised with his or her level of thoughtfulness, creativity and responsibility! It is also a good idea for parents to set reasonable expectations for themselves in order to reduce stress and enjoy the evening. Even the best-laid plans may need to be flexible!
Connect and review the next day
Talk with your child about how the night went. Ask your child what was fun about preparing for or going out on Halloween – these things can become special memories or part of your family’s annual traditions. Talk about what parts of the night went well and what parts could have gone better. Give positive feedback and acknowledge your child for following the plan you created together.
It is very common for parenting challenges to occur around Halloween, holidays and other special events. When a child’s routine is changed, or expectations and excitement are running high, it can be stressful for both the child and parent. Whether planning for Halloween, a birthday or another special holiday, following these practical tips can result in less stress for you, your child and your family. Even small changes can make a big difference.
These tips come from the Triple P - Positive Parenting Program, made available locally by First 5 Santa Cruz County. Triple P is scientifically proven and is the world’s leading positive parenting program. In addition to tips like these, Triple P also offers classes and one-on-one meetings to help parents handle everyday parenting challenges.
For more information about Triple P, visit triplep.first5scc.org, www.facebook.com/triplepscc or www.youtube.com/triplepsantacruzco. To find a Triple P class or practitioner, contact Stephanie Bluford at 831-465-2217 or firstname.lastname@example.org