The early years are especially sensitive for learning emotional and social skills and this time of year highlights many of them.
October is a unique month in the calendar and in the life of a child. It is the only time where so many people are all enjoying being scared. With scary faces, costumes, and noises, it’s a great opportunity to talk about emotions, in particular being afraid. Some common fears for kids are the dark, loud noises, being alone, and monsters. You can ask your child what is scary about Halloween and talk about it.
It’s much easier to cope with being afraid of monsters when it’s a friend wearing a monster costume. Check out some costumes in the stores so your child can see it’s just clothes with some scary effects. Look in the mirror with your child and together make some really scary faces. There are other emotions too, like being excited. Kids only have to think about all the treats to make very happy expressions.
Halloween also has a number of social skills. First of all, is the skill of waiting. Despite stores selling many items already, kids still have to wait. One way to help them do this is to get a calendar and mark off the sleeps.
Another social skill is how to be friendly. On Halloween night, kids need to know what to do and how to use the words Trick or Treat and thank you. It helps to have a parent standing right close but still takes confidence to go up to a door. Back at home, there’s more waiting and possibly, some sharing too as parents check over and sort the treats. It’s hard not to eat the goodies all at once.
Halloween has so many opportunities for practicing basic social interactions and for exploring feelings. How about naming some like happy or scared, patient or excited, and asking your child to make the faces and show how it feels?