Halloween can be a very overstimulating for kids especially finding a comfortable costume to loud and crowded places. Here are some tips on different ways to prevent meltdowns during this fun and exciting time of year.
Here are some strategies to help your child pick a costume.
Costume suggestions for kids who have…
Unexpected mishaps – have an old back up costume in case of an unexpected mishap or even creating their own outfit from clothing they already own, this way they can still participate
Sensory aversion tendencies – order the costume early enough to be able to assess how your child feels wearing it, what can he/she tolerate, trial out the costume for a few days and encourage your child to express how they are feeling
Difficulty with decision making – helping to narrow down by categories (superhero, animal, or tv character, etc.), and reassure your child that the costume they chose is great
Halloween Trick or Treating Prep & Expectations:
Discuss with your child what to expect when trick or treating with themed books or educational videos relating to Halloween
Take a neighborhood drive to get comfortable with the environment
Draw a scene of what they perceive trick or treating may look like that night (this is helpful for anxious children to have a plan of expectations)
If your child has dietary restrictions, prior to Halloween night discuss trading the candy in for a new toy at the store. Each piece of candy has a numerical value, and your child can pick a toy out at the store based on the numerical value. Another alternative can be to swap out their candy with candy that they could have when they return home or your child can leave the candy by their bed for the Halloween fairy to come and replace it with a surprise gift.
Some behaviors to be aware of when Trick or Treating:
Pulling on costume – may mean they are having difficulty tolerating the costume. In this case, you can bring extra clothes to change into so they can still continue trick-or-treating
Covering ears, eyes, or hiding when approaching different houses – may be overstimulated by the increased noise or visual stimulation (scary décor). In this case have your child take a break in a quiet area, headphones can be helpful to decrease auditory discomfort
Defiant behavior – define expectations for child prior to trick or treating, child check-ins to see how they are feeling and to see what can be triggering the behavior
Some strategies to set up a fun-filled Halloween Night:
· Eat a satisfying dinner so your child does not binge on candy ( we all know the aftermath of a child eating too much candy)
· Children with auditory sensitivities – bring noise cancelling headphones or avoid crowded houses and Halloween décor with loud effects
· Give limits on candy consumption and discuss candy expectations including how many your child will be able to have. They can do a wrapper check to keep count
· Do check-ins to see how your child is doing. Give expectations on how long you will be trick or treating for, bring a timer if you feel your child responds well to them
· Later bedtime is fine however not too late, as this can create a rough morning
Have a spooky and safe Halloween!
Reference article: https://stressfreekids.com/4621/halloween-tips-avoid-meltdowns/
Written by Vanessa Fiorelli, COTA