The other night, I was walking through the Halloween costume aisle looking for what I’m going to wear this year. They had some great ones—especially the cuddly baby costumes, which make me want to ask Ron about having another one! But they also had kids’ costumes that I thought were too over-the-top, scary, or violent.
There was an “evil pumpkin” mask that looked like something someone robbing a convenience store would wear, only scarier. Zombies and vampires seem to be the most popular costumes this year. Some are those okay, but there are plenty that lean toward overkill with the fake blood and gore. And don’t get me started on the fearsome array of plastic weapons!
The costume aisle is scary enough. But when you get home and turn on the television, you’re bound to be bombarded by commercials for movies like “Halloween II” or “Saw VI.” They’re on all the time! And even the “approved for TV” versions of the trailers are dark, violent, and bloody. To be honest, they scare me and our fourth-grader Adam (who, by the way, turned 10 just a couple weeks ago!).
A couple years ago, a childhood psychologist at Penn State University, Cindy Dell Clark, conducted a study of six- and seven-year-olds. She found that many parents underestimated the scare factor of Halloween and how it affects their children. Clark said that Halloween is a fun time for adults, but children sometimes have trouble processing the themes the holiday revolves around—particularly the scary stuff like skeletons or death. Often, children are most scared when they don’t understand what’s going on.
We always let Adam pick out his own costume. I think that’s half the fun! But we do steer him away from anything that’s too gory or gross. For our family, it’s possible to have fun and be a little spooky, but do it without being totally scary.
What do you think? Has Halloween gotten scarier over the years? Have kids’ costumes gone too far? How do you help your children pick out their costumes?
And how do you discuss the scary elements of Halloween that might be too much for them to handle?