Introducing Trick-or-Treating to Your Anxious/Sensitive Child
I have fond memories of trick-or-treating as a child. My sisters, friends, and I would meander up and down streets, regularly stopping to trade sweets with one another and munch on the candies that were likely to be confiscated by parents once we returned home. It was a special time of year for me and, once I became a mom, I looked forward to the Halloween memories I would make with my own children.
I’ve only been a mom in the “Highly Sensitive Child” world for a couple of years. Our son was officially diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder a few months ago, but we knew well before that he wasn’t a typical child. He requires lots of preparatory measures for most big events and so, when it came to Halloween, we knew trick-or-treating was going to be no different.
So, after consulting with our counselor and a few other moms, here is how we prepped our son for his first trick-or-treating experience:
I showed him pictures and (not scary) videos I found online of trick-or-treating. We went and walked the route we planned to take on Halloween night and even practiced trick-or-treating at friends’ and grandparents’ homes.
Role playing. When we were practicing trick-or-treating, we discussed social cues. We even practiced what he should say if someone complimented his costume or asked him small-talk questions.
Make sure the costume isn’t bothersome. My son doesn’t like things that are “itchy” or “too tight.” We had him wear his costume quite a bit around the house leading up to Halloween so we knew that he would be comfortable in what he was wearing since he would be in a new situation.
Take lots of pictures and make great memories. Our experience went really well…and I am certain it was due in large part to preparation. My son felt confident on Halloween night. He knew exactly which house we were going to and, by the end of the night, he was even going up to doors by himself!
I’m certain these same steps could be applied to most situations. Whether it’s Halloween, a Christmas party, or the first day of school, you could tailor these methods to help your child with sensitivities or anxiety feel better-prepared and set them up for success.
Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at karagaris.com.