After a young child watches a scary movie or is frightened by a Halloween costume, parents should reach for a can of “anti-monster spray” before bedtime, said Theresa Kruczek, a counseling psychology professor at Ball State University.
“Preschool children and those in early elementary school often have a difficult time with Halloween,” Kruczek said in a news release. “Children this age often struggle with separating fantasy from reality and as a result they may get confused and think the scary elements of Halloween are real.
“After a frightening experience, children may have nightmares. They really can’t tell us too much about the dream, but we can take some precautions to ward off those dreams by using a can of air freshener, otherwise known as anti-monster spray, to keep monsters at bay. Monsters don’t like nice-smelling stuff.”
Kruczek also advised the following to keep Halloween fun and less frightening for the preschool set:
• Limit them to 30 minutes or less of activities, including trick-or-treating, and only during daylight hours if possible.
• Ask friends and strangers to take off masks to show children that there really is a person under the costume.
• Parents and siblings should never wear masks around youngsters afraid of such items.
• In families with children of varying age ranges, allow each youngster to participate in age-appropriate activities.
• Avoid haunted houses unless the facility offers age-appropriate activities.
“Just because you love haunted houses doesn’t mean your 4-year-old will,” Kruczek said. “Parents are in the best position to know what frightens their child and to help them cope with Halloween. If kids freak out during a scary movie, they’ll freak out at a haunted house or when someone in a scary outfit comes by.”
That’s why the idea of anti-monster spray – applied in closets and under beds – can work for many young children, she said in a short video (Watch it at bit.ly/1knkSzO.)
“Sometimes if they have an unreasonable fear that’s based in fantasy,” Kruczek said in the video, “you have to fight that with a fantasy intervention.”