It’s “spooky season” as we get closer to Halloween and it’s a time where kids find themselves seeing scary images and hearing spooky sounds that might make them feel afraid or uncertain.
Communication Expert Lisa Mitchell shares a few things you can do as a parent or caregiver that can help the kid in your life feel a little less scared and enjoy the season with more confidence:
- Ask them how they are feeling
Sometimes we assume our kids are feeling one way when they actually are experiencing things very differently than we might assume or expect. By asking them “How are you feeling right now?” when you think they might have fear or uncertainty, you can more accurately assess where they actually are in their feelings and them offer the most appropriate response to them.
You may find that they will answer with “I don’t like this!” or “I want to leave!” instead of them telling you they are scared or creeped out by something they are seeing or hearing. Or they may answer with “That’s really weird!” or “That’s so fake!” and laugh and you know that they are processing it in a more fun way instead of being scared. Don’t be afraid to ask them a next level question like “Why” or “What do you like/not like about this?” to get even more data into how they are experiencing a situation.
- Offer Reassurance and emphasize that they are safe
Once you know how they are feeling, you can offer the specific reassurance they need to help them feel safe. If they express that they are scared of a spooky monster because it might come and take them, let them know that they are safe with you and that no one is taking them away from you. If they are feeling overwhelmed or believing the scary thing is real, reassure them that it’s just pretend and that no harm will come to them. Being able to specifically address their immediate concern and offer reassurance helps them to relax and trust that they are safe with you.
- Reframe the “scary thing” into something silly or fun
Kids are always looking to you to see how you respond to things they are uncertain of to gauge how they should respond or what level of concern they should have as well. If you can show them that “scary” things are actually funny or silly and reinforce that with your words by saying something like “Oh that is just so silly!” or “It’s trying to be scary but I know it’s just pretend so I’m being brave!” can help encourage your child to see it in a new and less scary light themselves.
You set the temperature with how kids react so managing your own response and being mindful of the words you use to describe your experience can help them feel more brave and more at ease in the moment.
To learn more, visit www.powerbodylanguage.com or connect on Instagram at @lisamitchellindy.