How can you tell what level of scary is the right one for your child on Halloween?

A good question to ask yourself would be, what is the meaning of Halloween for your family? What is the tradition that you would like to instill in your children? How do you feel about Halloween being scary? Do you like it being scary? Would you prefer that it wasn’t scary? The ideas that we have about Halloween come from our parents, ancestors and our environment.

Since cultures have become more mixed, Halloween captures pieces of various cultural traditions.  Ghosts, witches, pumpkins, skeletons, and fall theme decorations, all come together during the Halloween season.

It is important that no matter what is the meaning of Halloween for you that your feel clear and comfortable with it.  A lot of times we inherit values or traditions from our families and we think that we have to follow them.  This could be an opportunity for you to re-evaluate those values or traditions and decide if they connect with who you are, or not, because it is important that you feel confident and comfortable with what you are going to teach your children.

Once you have understood the meaning or your way to see and celebrate Halloween, be ready for your children’s questions and listen carefully to their reactions.  When we are attuned to our children we will be able to tell what is the right level of scary for them and how they feel about it. 

Being attuned means being able to put their emotional needs before our needs. (If something scares them don’t push it on them because you enjoy it or like it, validate their feelings even if you don’t agree with them, because those feelings are there for a reason, be sensitive to your child’s needs).  Check periodically with your child on how they feel about Halloween, what they see in their neighborhood, social media, TV and be available to talk and process their emotions and feelings about it.

People associate different feelings and emotions with Halloween and it may help us understand one of the reasons of why people like scary themes. It might be that while they were growing up, their family decorated their house with scary themes, but it was a fun and loving activity where they had the opportunity to participate and had a great time so in that case scary themes are associated with fun and happiness.  This is an example that scary doesn’t mean necessarily bad.

Another reason why people like scary stuff is because thrilling situations can cause a rush of adrenaline in our bodies and a release of Dopamine, and since our brains knows we are safe and it is just pretend, people enjoy that rush.  It is important to clarify that all brains are wired differently and it doesn’t happen this way for everyone.

Traditions are important because they bring people together, help us to take a break, celebrate, and share with everyone and remind us that we belong to a community and share something in common.

That is the reason why Halloween is still celebrated, even though the meaning of it is not as clear as before.  It is just an excuse and reason to celebrate together.

Cristina Deneve, MA, AMFT #109193

Supervised by Michael Uram, MA,  LPCC, LMFT

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