Zionsville Times Sentinel

October 16, 2013

Good of season outshines scary

By Tess Worrell
For the Times Sentinel

— Mommy, can I look now?” Confused I looked in the rearview mirror to see my daughter hunched over in her car seat hiding her eyes. When asked what was wrong, she pointed out the window and muttered, “The scary signs are everywhere.”

It dawned on me — October. Billboards, window displays and store aisles go all out, pushing the creepy factor to grab the attention of potential customers on this holiday — the second most profitable of the year. While I’d been either too jaded or too busy to notice, my “taking in the whole world daughter” was deeply impacted. Not for the good. What’s a parent to do about Halloween?

For many children, Halloween’s appeal lies largely in facing down the scary. As goose bumps raise so does enjoyment. Then, of course, there’s the huge quantity of candy.

For other children, the candy doesn’t quite make up for the scary encounters with the evil witch at the grocery or the skeletons lining the neighbor’s porch. Children, especially younger than age 10, are extremely concrete. As we sail along the aisles of the stores looking past the gruesome masks in search of a great deal on king size candy bars, our children are staring them straight in the eye. Younger children especially struggle because they lack reference points for processing what they see or words to express their reaction. They may point and cry, melt down later or face nightmares at night — leaving parents incredibly confused about why their child is struggling. There are ways parents can protect and comfort sensitive children.

See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.