Halloween is a time for fun, thrills and excitement, but it's also a time for costumes, candy and chaos. No wonder children can become a little ghoulish.
If you don't want to morph into a monstrous mama or papa, try these top tricks for handling five big parenting challenges that can spook us out on Halloween.
They are as simple as to implement as mixing a spell, and require just a dash of playfullness and a willing ear.
1. Refusing To Wear Costume:
So he begged to be an astronaut but now you bring out the costume and he runs the other way. What's going on? Halloween is all he's been talking about, so why does he not want to go?
Despite the obvious appeal of Halloween, ghouls and ghosts are far outside the everyday norm. Your little one may be anxious of what's to come or could be holding onto past experiences that have scared him.
Try humor to diffuse that tension first.
When he says no to the costume, say, “Oh goodie! That means I can wear it.” Then attempt to put your foot in the helmet, or your arm in a leg hole. Proceed to wander around the room like a spaced out astronaut or a mixed up monster and keep trying to catch him but miss.
One laugh, and you’ve lightened the tone for everyone. And because play builds connections, his confidence in you gets a boost so he feels happier.
If he is still reluctant, offer Special Time to give your connection an extra boost. Five minutes could transform his mindset, so that he feels more ready and willing to get going.
2. Does Not Want To Join The Monster Mash:
Big groups and loud parties can be nerve-wracking at the best of times, and costumes at Halloween only take up the drama. If your child feels reluctant to take part, try the Runaway Game:
Hold your child and peek in together at the group. Then playfully say, “Let's run away,” and run away, jiggling your child in your arm. Then go back, peek, and run away again. Keep doing this as long as there is laughter. During the game, you instigate the running away, taking the pressure not to participate from your child. You provide closeness, both in your attention, and with your body, and you let her view the party from a comfortable standpoint.
If she feels comfortable, you can suggest going to talk to someone she knows or recognises. Saying “I'm going to help you say hi to Patty,” shows her that play has stopped, but you are right by her side.
3. Fights Over Candy:
When kids feel connected, relaxed and loved they are more likely to share well. Unfortunately Halloween does a lot to shake up those feelings. In the moment, trick or treating at a scary house might feel like a hoot, but later at home events like this might rattle your children.
And then we add candy to the mix!
But sugar isn't the biggest scare here. Perhaps the evening's events has reminded them of a fearful past experience, or their sense of connection got disrupted during trick or treating.
Either way, if they are fighting over candy they are signalling for help and safety.
“Once a child feels he can’t live another minute without a desired item, the feelings run high,” says Hand in Hand's founder Patty Wipfler. “A child will let a parent know he’s running on empty by wanting only what someone else has, or by wanting all of something.”
And so the fighting and squabbling begins.
Use laughter to bring relief and unite them against you. Tell them, “No! I want all the candy!” Scoop up the candy and run away with a twinkle in your eye. Make a challenge over your shoulder: “Unless you can get it back?”
Bringing in laughter dissolves tensions that stop children being generous. Once the game is over and they “win” their candy back from you, they will be much more likely to treat each other better.
4. She Wants ALL of the Candy. Now!
Excitement is at an all time high and the candy bag is bulging. Now your child is begging and whining to eat the contents and all you can see in your mind is the added chaos of a massive sugar high!
Move in close and set a limit. Scoop your child onto your lap and set the limit in a calm, gentle voice. No lectures, harshness or bribes are needed. Make eye contact, and listen.
They'll likely to be some cries over what limit you set, but but don't fear. This outburst helps release the underlying feelings, the night's pulse-racing excitement, tension and fears, that cause her to beg and whine in the first place, and is less to do about any sense of loss over the actual candy.
If you can stay close and listen as she cries, you'll see her shed those feelings as she returns to calmness.
She'll be able to listen and co-operate much better afterwards.
5. Your Kids Look Like They've Gone Wild:
So you are back at home after Halloween and the kids are wired. Your first thought might be to put this down to a sugar rush and excitement.
Actually, they may be rattled by the nights events. They may be scared.
To soothe the manic energy, try taking them in your arms. Be physical at first. Try swooping them up or down, or playing some kind of roughhousing games so that they can shed off some of their big feelings.
If the fears run deeper, they may resort to tears. Take this is a sign they need you close.
Hand in Hand's Staylistening tool is useful here: Sit near to them, or gently stroke their back and say just a few soothing words. “I'm here,” or “You are safe now,” helps them feel free to let loose, get those tears out without interruptions, and shed the fears trapped underneath.
Once the session is over, you'll see calm return. They may even begin talking about, and laughing about what it was that scared them.
Try these calm parenting strategies to get more out of Halloween, and don't forget to help yourself to a few treats too.
From the Hand in Hand Toolbox:
For more on Staylistening read: My Story: How Staylistening Helped My Family and Inspired Me
Find out about Hand in Hand's Five Listening Tools and transform the way you parent
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