It is that time of year folks. The leaves are beginning to change, the sweaters, scarves, and boots are making their seasonal debut, and now the temps are finally dropping (thanks to the Tennessee heat wave). Halloween is in the air.
If you are anything like me, you are struggling to come up with a costume. In fact, that is all I have been thinking about before our churches big community Trunk or Treat event. However, I wanted to take a moment to talk about something so essential for Halloween – safety. It is so important to kid’s development and emotional well being to ensure their safety as much as humanly possible.
The American Academy of Pediatrics published some incredible tips for Halloween safety. In my research to provide you with a list, I utilized their resources as well as other pages, and word of mouth. Below are some of my tips from a mental health perspective.
Halloween provides a plethora of opportunities for family connection: family trick or treating, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, Halloween movie nights, bonfires and more.
- Pumpkin carving is a great family bonding activity. If your kids are too little to carve, they can draw a face with markers then the parents can do the cutting. I love these kid-friendly stencils provided by HGTV. To increase safety with little ones, you can also consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin.
- When trick or treating, a responsible adult should accompany young children. If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. All groups should stay together and communicate where they are going. Carrying a cellphone for quick communication can be helpful if someone gets separated.
Think about your costume
- Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. This helps you to keep an eye on them in the night to keep them out of danger. If needed, consider adding reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
- When choosing an outfit, consider carefully if the costume you or your child is wearing will foster misconceptions about people with mental illness or demonize people who struggle with such disorders.
Beware of Trauma Triggers
Often Halloween can bring up many triggers of past traumatic experiences. This can be through movies, shows, costumes, decorations, and more. The violence depicted may trigger you or your child. It is important to be able to recognize the triggers in an effort to manage them.
To help you manage your own or your child’s triggers you can:
- Connect with your Support System — Spend time doing fun activities with your friends and family. Ask for their help during triggering situations.
- Avoid Triggering Activities — Limit exposure to things that may bother you or your child. For instance, watch a comedy instead of a scary movie or avoid going trick or treating if it is upsetting. There are lots of activities that you can do at home with friends or family to keep everyone emotionally safe.
- Engage in Calming Practices — While you can’t avoid everything related to Halloween, you can utilize mindfulness to decrease stress. See also some of my favorite mindfulness activities!
- Find a Mental Health Professional — Working with a trained clinician can help you to identify triggers and develop healthy coping techniques. A mental health professional can also help you to work through process past trauma in a safe, supportive environment. CFC is here for you if you need a mental health professional to speak with.