When Halloween is Hard
Halloween is a time of great excitement for many children, but for some kids it can be extremely challenging. Free candy, dressing up, parties, parades- what’s so hard about that? While this sounds amazing to a lot of people, it is important to understand that not all children enjoy the added excitement and change of routine that a holiday can bring. It can actually be the opposite of fun for them.
Both of my boys LOVE Halloween now, but this wasn’t always the case. My oldest son suffered from selective mutism in his preschool years and both of my boys have some sensory processing issues that have affected past Halloween celebrations and costumes. We haven’t always had the best luck with people understanding their struggles, so I wanted to spread awareness of these challenges to promote understanding.
5 reasons why Halloween can be hard for children.
1. Not all children like to dress up.
Do you have or know a child that is very particular about the texture of clothing they wear? Are they extremely sensitive to tags or a particular material/style of clothing- swooshy nylon clothes, shirts with collars, etc? Some children are very sensitive to how certain clothes feel. They may be a highly sensitive child or have sensory processing disorder which can affect how they feel about costumes.
My oldest son refused to try on any Halloween costume when he was two and three. He would throw a fit every time we came near him with one. When we finally convinced/bribed him to put on a costume for his preschool party, he immediately took it off when he got to school. We were frustrated and so was he! We had no idea what was going on. It wasn’t until he was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, that we realized the true struggle he had with the texture and fit of certain clothing.
As he grew older and could verbalize his frustration things got easier. Once we realized what was going on, we were able to work with him to create a costume that was comfortable for him. It is so important not to assume anything and be accepting of children who do not wear costumes. There is probably a very good reason.
2. Not all children like to be the center of attention
I used to think that all children loved being the center of attention, and then I had my own kids. It really should come as no surprise that my children do not like attention drawn to them, as both my husband and I are the same way; however this didn’t ever cross my mind in regards to Halloween until my son got upset about walking in his school’s Halloween parade. He didn’t want everyone looking at him and I totally get that. When children wear a costume, they are going to receive extra attention and are more likely to have people engage with them regarding what they are wearing. This can be very difficult for an introverted child.
3. Not all children are verbal
Being nonverbal is often associated with autism, but this condition can also occur in children with other special needs. I’ll never forget the time that a woman teased my son about not giving him candy until he said “Trick-or-Treat.” My oldest was diagnosed with selective mutism at age 3. He could fully communicate in his home environment where he was comfortable. but was physically unable to speak outside of the home due to anxiety. Trick-or-Treating was a huge challenge, but no one knew that and I didn’t have time to educate each person who opened their door on Halloween.
After receiving the proper therapy, he is now screaming trick-or-treat with the rest of them, but I am very aware of how hard this activity still is for so many children. If your child struggles with this as well, there are free printables at the end of this post that could be given out to quickly inform and educate. Please don’t assume anything about the children who come to your door.
4. Not all children like a change in routine
On special holidays like Halloween, school days become much more unpredictable and chaotic. The routine is usually thrown off with a school party, games, parades and excited children running around. At home, things can be chaotic with the rush to eat and interruptions as people knock on the door for candy. If you’re child is more difficult than usual or has more meltdowns, the change in routine could be throwing them off.
5. Not all children enjoy being scared
A lot of kids talk a good talk regarding the scary side of Halloween, but when it comes down to it, Halloween can be quite scary. A combination of a dark night while trick-or-treating, masked faces, and decorations that startle with loud noises or figures popping out can be all too much for a highly sensitive child.
If you have a child who could relate to the challenges above, download these FREE printables to help spread your message. I saw these sayings on an autism site and loved them! I created my own images and altered the wording a bit to fit more general needs.
Get the printable format to distribute. Free download below.