It’s the most spook-tacular time of the year! Halloween is a favorite holiday for children of all ages. Dressing up like their favorite characters, watching scary movies, trick-or-treating for bags of candy, what’s not to love? Best Brains students love Halloween, and we consider Halloween to be our official unofficial holiday.
Why Do Children Love Halloween?
If you think that Halloween seems tailor-made to appeal to children, that’s because it is! Prior to the 1800’s, Halloween was considered to be a very paranormal and even dangerous day of the year. Children of the time could be terrible pranksters, and depending on the community could do some real damage every October 31st. So, community organizers decided to take over the holiday, organizing parties for kids with music, games, and a whole lot of treats! This tradition proved to be a lot more fun for kids than causing property damage, so they embraced the changes, creating Halloween as we know it today.
There are many reasons why children love Halloween. Kids are full of creativity. Their play is built around storytelling, make believe, and magic. Halloween is where playtime and life meet. Children are also very social by nature, even shy kids. Most Halloween activities are meant to be shared with other people. And, as every parent knows, children love to feel independent and grown up. We put a lot of trust in our kids on Halloween. They get to walk around the neighborhood, ring stranger’s doorbells, view spooky, scary media, and embody another character with their costumes. Halloween gives kids a sense of independence that they rarely get at other times of the year. As parents, we can often gauge what kind of responsibility our child is ready for based on how they handle Halloween activities. Hopefully they are lessons we can apply all year!
The Cognitive Benefits of Spooks and Scares
When it comes to Halloween chills and thrills, most kids can’t get enough! Like they say in The Nightmare Before Christmas, “Life’s no fun without a good scare.” Most people enjoy controlled fear, whether from horror movies or roller coasters or zip lining. Experiencing fear is euphoric, it shakes up the mundanity of life, and it gives us an appreciation for safety and comfort.
Experiencing fear is all a part of being human, and has been shown to have cognitive benefit for kids. As children age, they begin to understand the difference between fantasy and reality. Children as young as 3 start to make these distinctions and it becomes easier as children age. Children experience fear on a much deeper level than adults because of biology. The fear response in young children is about self-preservation, running away from anything scary just in case it might be something that can cause harm. Exposing children to controlled scares like monster costumes, scary stories, and spooky noises helps children develop their fear response and shows them the difference between a real fear and an imagined one.
Halloween and Toddlers
Not every child can embrace the spooky nature of Halloween, and that’s okay. Behavioral psychologists point out that while most children start to understand the difference between fantasy and reality, other children take longer to make these distinctions. While perfectly normal developmentally, it does prove challenging to parents who want to protect their kids from negative emotions and traumatizing situations.
So, what do you do when your child is too scared by Halloween? The best course of action is not to push them beyond their limits. If a child doesn’t understand the difference between a person in a werewolf costume and a real werewolf, taking the rubber mask off won’t help. If you know that your child is easily scared, do your best to prepare the child for what they’re going to experience so at the very least they know that you can protect them. The most important thing to remember with toddlers is that they all develop at their own pace. Even if Halloween proves too much for them to handle this year, next year they might try to give that werewolf a big hug!
Fun Halloween Activities
Are you looking for a few fun Halloween activities to shake up your routine? Here are some suggestions!
- Decorate with candy corn. Candy corn might not be our favorite to eat, but it’s fun shape and bright, seasonal colors can be used to make mosaics, fun accessories, or just fill up a decorative bowl.
- Go lights out. Want a Halloween party the kids will remember? Turn off your house lights and utilize only spooky string lights, jack-o'-lanterns, and lots of glow-in-the-dark to create a fun and chilling mood. With advance warning, kids and parents can create special glow-in-the-dark details on their costumes!
- Get crafty. While we love a basic jack-o'-lantern, switch it up this year by making yarn spider webs, ghost garlands, or pumpkin spice slime!
However you choose to celebrate the favorite holiday of Best Brains, all of our families wish you a very Happy Halloween!!
Check out how some of our centers celebrate Halloween around the country!
Best Bbrains Pearland
Best Bbrains San Jose
Best Bbrains Milpitas
Best Bbrains Westmont
Best Bbrains Canton