Halloween can be a very overstimulating time of year. From navigating store aisles in search of a comfortable costume to parading around loud and crowded sidewalks and neighborhood activities there is a lot of sensory input to take in, which can create an overload for your trick-or-treater. Here are some tips on different ways to help kids (and their families) keep Halloween a fun and exciting experience.
Below are some easy ways to keep your little one happy and engaged on Halloween night.
Picking the Right Costume for Your Child
Let’s start with some strategies to help your child pick a costume:
- Prepare for unexpected mishaps: have an old back up costume in case of an unexpected mishap or even creating their own outfit from clothing they already own
- Sensory aversion tendencies: order the costume early to assess how your child feels wearing it.Trial out the costume for a few days and encourage your child to express how the costume feels while wearing it. This can help gauge what they can tolerate and if any modifications need to be done before the big night.
- Difficulty with decision making: help to narrow down choices by categories (superhero, animal, or tv character, etc.), and reassure your child that the costume they chose is great
Halloween Trick or Treating Prep & Expectations
- Discuss with your child what to expect when trick or treating with themed books relating to Halloween.
- Take a neighborhood drive to get comfortable with the environment
- Draw a scene of what they perceive trick or treating may look like that night. This is helpful for anxious children to have a plan of expectations, some possible unexpected happenings, and possible solutions so they feel equipped to navigate different scenarios
- If your child has dietary restrictions – There are a few ideas on how to offer alternatives. Regardless of which idea you choose it’s a good idea to discuss the candy plan prior to Halloween. For younger kids, your child may want to leave that candy for the Halloween fairy, who trades the candy left for a surprise gift. Some parents may choose to buy ‘allowed’ candy for their child to swap their collected candy with. Another alternative can be the option of trading the candy in for a new toy at the store. Each piece of candy has an assigned monetary value, which your child can then accumulate to ‘cash in’ for a toy out at the store based on the “money” they collected.
Identify Sensory Overload Before It happens
- Pulling on costume: This may mean they are having difficulty tolerating the costume. In this case you can bring extra clothes to change into.
- Covering ears, eyes, or hiding when approaching different houses: They may be overstimulated by the increased noise or visual stimulation (scary décor). In this case, have your child take a break in a quiet area.
- Defiant behavior: Check-in in with your child to see how they are feeling and to see what can be triggering the behavior.
Strategies for a Fun-filled Halloween Night
- Eat a satisfying dinner so your child does not binge on candy.
- Give limits on candy consumption and discuss candy expectations including how many your child will be able to have. They can do a wrapper check to keep count.
- Bring noise cancelling headphones or avoid crowded houses and Halloween décor with loud effects if your child has auditory sensitivities.
- Do check-ins to see how your child is doing. Give expectations on how long you will be trick or treating. You may want to set timers/alarms if you feel your child responds well to them.
- Later bedtime is part of the fun, however you might not want it to get too late, as this can create a rough morning.
Have a safe and spooky Halloween!