Halloween is an opportunity for us to support children’s exploration of power and control.
Children need to learn how to appropriately manage power. Parents are vital for guiding their children through this important developmental process.
- Children need to learn self-control a leading indicator for school success. Parents can support this by giving children choices.
- Power is having control. Preschool children explore power through play and social relationships.
- Power is learning about personal freedom while respecting others also includes too much power or not enough power can cause power struggles
- Children become negotiators, a skill learned early.
Children often struggle with feeling too powerful or powerless. How does Halloween help support children’s emotions?
Halloween is a child’s favorite holiday. Children get the opportunity to explore their wildest dreams and stretch their imaginations far beyond the typical day; there are almost no rules. Halloween can be an overly stimulating experience for children. They can feel powerful when they are feeling powerless. They can hide if they are feeling too powerful. They put on a mask and they are transformed into Spiderman or Snow White. They can take on a persona and test new emotional territory. “I am Spidy, I can get you in my web.” A child’s development is filled with many emotional highs and lows. Halloween enables a child to stretch the boundaries. All of this Can be overwhelming for a children, so the balance of guiding a child to build self- control is crucial.
We obviously need to be sensitive and tend to our children’s fears year round. Halloween presents an opportunity that is challenging for everyone involved. Do we just thrust our children into a Halloween event? “It will be fun,” “They will love it” or “I don’t want them to get scared” “It is too scary for me.” How do we reassure them that they are safe and sound, so they are not over powered by the environment? How do we support the child to have an appropriate balance of power?
Halloween is an opportunity to build emotionally strong children as we sidle with their power by guiding, supporting, and encouraging it.
Now, it is time to go Trick or Treating…knock, knock…who’s there? Ahhh remember the days! First and foremost, families must make Halloween safe for our children…physically safe, emotionally safe, and socially safe.
What can parents do to use Halloween as a tool?
- Give children the choice of costume. Do you want to be Spiderman or Batman? Spiderman, why do you like Spiderman so much?
- Help them understand that they are pretending to be the character. ”You are you even when you are wearing the mask but isn’t it fun to pretend to be Spiderman” This is where they learn true personal power and self-control.
- Express safety concerns. Explain appropriate times to wear the mask. When we are crossing the street, you need to take your mask off.”
- Be reflective. Am I hovering too much? Am I giving too much freedom? Each parent has their own comfort level.
I would love to hear from parents, teachers or anyone else. What are your early recollections of Halloween? Have your early experience affect your attitude about Halloween today?
Post by Stephen Zwolak
- Halloween: An Opportunity for Growth
- Halloween celebrations
- Halloween is a fun holiday for children of all ages