Is Your Child Scared of Halloween

It’s time once again for Heather Johnson from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. Here’s Heather in her own words and sharing how parents should support kids and their interests.


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Halloween can be a tricky holiday for young children. It can be hard for them to distinguish between reality and make believe. They can be really scared of the decorations, costumes, and knocking door-to-door asking strangers for candy.

There are a number of things we can do as parents to help ease our children’s worries and give our families a happier Halloween.

Is your child scared of Halloween decorations?
  • Does your toddler get scared when they see store displays, fake spiders, mummies and skeletons? Take a few minutes to explain to them that decorations are part of holiday celebrations. Explain that just like colored eggs are part of Easter, and Christmas Trees are part of Christmas, skeletons and jack-o-lanterns are part of Halloween. Don’t forget to explain that the decorations are temporary and will be taken down as soon as Halloween is over. 
  • Explain that none of the decorations are real, but instead, pretend. Pick up and touch the decorations yourself so it is clear that the decoration is harmless. Then, invite your child to touch the decorations like you have. We have had to work through this with every one of our children. My parents have this great spider that crawls up the window whenever there is a loud noise. It is an awesome decoration. Every one of our kids is scared of it at first. We have to hold the spider ourselves and pet it before they will consider even being in the same room with the decoration. After we have held it a few times, we ask them if they want to hold it themselves. After watching us, they are eventually willing to give it shot. Remember to not force them to engage, just offer.
  • If store displays still make them uncomfortable, consider leaving them at home while you run your errands. 

Is your child scared of the costumes?

  • Encourage non-scary costumes. Leave out the blood and gore. Instead of ghosts and goblins, encourage them to dress up as a character they are familiar with. This might include a favorite T.V., movie, or book character. You could also suggest they dress up as the people they pretend to be every day while they play. When our daughter was little she didn’t want to wear a costume, but she loved to play “teacher”. We suggested she be a teacher for Halloween and it solved our costume problem. This helped us with our son also. When he was little he liked to pretend to be different animals. He didn’t really care for costumes either, but when I asked him if he wanted to be a dog, his animal of the week, he was all for it. 
  • Encourage them to dress up before Halloween night so they can become more comfortable with their costume. Playing make believe in their costumes will also help them understand the difference between real and make believe. When Halloween night rolls around, wearing the costume wont be a big deal at all. 
  • Forgo the masks. Small children usually don’t like masks, lots of makeup, or things on their heads. Don’t make them part of their costumes. Instead, put their costume on and then apply a few basic details with face paint. Keep it simple. Too much face paint could irritate their skin and bug them. 
  • Dress them up as themselves. If your little one is uncomfortable with costumes and face paint, have them pick out their favorite outfit, and dress up as themselves. Who better for them to be than them. :)

Is your child nervous about Trick-or-Treating?

  • Practice trick-or-treating. Have your child ring your door bell. When you answer, have them say trick-or-treat and give them a little something. Remind them to say thank you, and then have them practice again. This will make trick-or-treating less scary because they will know what to expect. 
  • If your little one is scared to go door-to-door, plan on only visiting a few houses that they are already familiar with. Start with your immediate neighbors that they say hi to everyday. Visit friend’s homes where they have play dates and relatives homes if they live near by. 
  • Trick-or-treat before it gets dark. It is much less scary to walk to a new door when it is still light outside. With your trick-or-treating done early, you can head home when it gets dark and let your little one help you answer the door for the trick-or-treaters. Or, if you want to stay out as a family, you can put your little one in a stroller and continue on together. Let them eat one of their treats and you will have a happy little monster. 
  • If your child is shy or scared, go to the door with them. You can even say trick-or-treat for them. After a few doors, they will start to understand how things work and want to be involved. It is also fun to have them go to the door with an older sibling. This will make them feel more comfortable. 
  • Talk to your child about what will happen Halloween night. Prepare them by verbally explaining what they will be doing. Talk to them about what is happening as you trick-or-treat also. Communicating will do much to curb nerves. You can even point out how other kids are trick-ot-treating so they can see examples. 
  • If your child insists they don’t like being out and want to go home, take them home. There is no need to force them up to people’s doors. 
As parents it is easy to let our expectations for holidays temporarily override what might be best for our children. We want them to dress up, look cute, and make wonderful memories. We might need to let go of our agenda, and consider how they are really feeling. If your child is afraid, respect their fears and let them wait to be more involved next year. Put them in the stroller, pack their favorite snacks, and let them watch their older siblings and the other neighborhood kids. If you are just going out for them, stay home and let them help you answer the door instead. They will love giving out candy and it will give them an opportunity to experience the holiday from the security of their own home. 
What are your children going to be for Halloween?
Do you have a Halloween Scaredy-Cat?

Have a question or just want to say hello.



  1. Wendy Hoffman says

    I think people should really think about why their child is scared! It is a scary time! I don’t like this time of year or all the decorations. I think the negative reaction of a child to Halloween is more right on than we know! Definitely worth our consideration!

  2. christine says

    I have a nine-year-old who has chosen to boycott Halloween. She loves dressing up but she does not love the creepy costumes some others chose to be. I can not blame her and we simply do not focus on that holiday much. That being said,stores are tough for her in September with all of the Halloween items. It is not so bad now that most store are on to Christmas by now. :)
    Nice post.

  3. Jennifer says

    Great article, I think its an important topic that a lot of parents have no guidance for.
    I would like to add that a big part of Hallowe’en can and (in my professional opinion) should be about facing fears and teaching children that fears only have the meaning that we allow them. If your child is afraid of spiders in real life, getting them to joke around and play with a pretend spider can have amazing effects on that real-life fear. Parents who avoid the |”spiders” actually enable their children to avoid “facing their fears”. Now, that isn’t to say that we should thrust Hallowe’en on our children or force them too far out of their comfort zones, but encouraging your child to conquer their fears and not be afraid is an amazing opportunity that Hallowe’en presents us with every year, whatever our fears are!

  4. says

    My youngest son was not a fan of Halloween. He didn’t want to wear a costume and he didn’t like candy. So, he stayed home with me and enjoyed helping at the door while my husband took his sister. He started going out when he was 6 and then decided it wasn’t for him after a few years. We didn’t make a big deal about it.


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