Tips for Success
Halloween is an exciting time for many kids, others may find trick-or-treating more tricky than fun. Spooky scenes, lights, sounds, crowds, and costumes in unfamiliar fabrics and textures can make Halloween uncomfortable and cause anxiety for our sensory kids.
Here are some tips on how we can support our children so they can feel calm, comfortable, confident (and hopefully excited!) as they prepare for Halloween!
Involve them in picking out their costume
Once your child has selected what they would like to dress up as, select a few options that you think would work well for them, and allow them to choose from the provided options. See below for a few ideas that could match well with your child’s Social Emotional Personality™!
Get your costume early so you have time to try it on and make sure it is comfortable
Have your child practice putting their costume on and taking it off and also managing it while using the bathroom so there are no surprises on Halloween.
Have a backup costume change ready
Although fun, Halloween can be a bit overwhelming, which can lead to some angst. When this happens, our touch system can go into fight or flight more quickly—and that costume we’ve tried on and solidified —suddenly doesn’t feel so good. Have a backup Halloween-themed tee shirt so that if the costume just isn’t happening on Halloween—no stress—they can still go out and trick-or-treat in their Halloween shirt.
Familiarize your child with the environment
Talk about who you will be spending the day with and the exact plan for the day. Map out your route and go for a walk. As you go through your walk, picture what it might look like on Halloween. What is your child picturing? What are you picturing? If there’s anything on the route that makes them feel uneasy (maybe particular decorations that pop out), problem-solve if they can either skip that house or find a new route.
You can also read a social story that talks about what to expect on Halloween and look at photos – remind your child about all the fun times they had last year and all they have to look forward to.
Have a reset place
Taking a break throughout the trick-or-treating adventure can help your child reset and get ready for more. You can be this place! 🙂 Let your child know that they don’t have to go to every house and that they can stay with you wherever they need to and rejoin when they are ready.
Make a break plan with them—when you go for a walk around the neighborhood where you will be walking on Halloween night, pick a few rest stops along the way. Consider bringing along a wagon to help with endurance or plan to go trick-or-treating for only a short period of time.
When we play with our kids, we are invited into their world of experiences. It helps them learn and understand their world, express feelings, and practice skills. It also provides a place of safety and connection. Pretend to play Trick-or-Treating! Set up some “houses” made out of pillows, chairs, tables, etc., and practice walking to each “house” and saying ‘Trick-or-Treat’.
Make it play
Trick or treating may not be fun for our sensory kids. As we know at Great Kids, getting into the play zone helps make tricky things fun! Here are some ways to bring in the play zone (if the fun doesn’t feel automatic for your Great Kid).
- Organize a trick-or-treating scavenger hunt! Make a list of Halloween-y things for them to look for as they trick-or-treat—like a spider web, skeleton, black cat, pumpkin, candy corn.
- Organize a candy treasure hunt! Make a list of types of candy that they need to dig for in their bag after each house.
- Put on your pretend play mode! Bring an extra piece of paper with you that will become a treasure map if your plan goes awry, or if you feel they’ve reached their limit—maybe they have to get home quickly to find a hidden candy or prize that you hid before they left—you can give them clues when they get there.
Ideas based on your Great Kids’ Sensory Emotional Personality™
Here are a few ideas that could match well with your child’s Social Emotional Personality™, but also try to follow their lead and interests and see where the play may take you!
Anxious yet deeply feeling
These kids get easily overwhelmed by the sensations around them and activities to participate in.
Designate a “safe space” aka a secret fort 🙂 for your child to return to when trick-or-treating – like a wagon with a canopy to make it feel like a cozy tent or add a cozy blanket to snuggle with in their seat in the car.
If there are parts of the costume you anticipate being uncomfortable or bothersome to your child, work on strategies to help make them more comfortable – like layering their favorite long sleeve t-shirt and leggings under their costume or letting them know they can take off their mask and other accessories whenever they would like. Help them put their costume on and take it off if needed.
These children tend to feel uncomfortable, overwhelmed, and stressed in new environments. Putting them in a costume that allows them to feel in control and powerful helps them to feel secure and protected. Try costumes like superheroes, firefighters, or police officers.
Scattered yet Intentional and Passionate
Children with this Sensory Emotional Personality™ style benefit from reenacting things they’ve experienced or playing through something that will happen. This is a great time to play trick-or-treating! You could take turns knocking on the door and playing out different trick-or-treat scenarios.
Our kids who are scattered yet intentional and passionate often use their strengths to overcome their weaknesses in ideation, motor planning, and adaptation. Their strengths are intentionality and passion for what they can do. They also intentionally become the directors of their world. Putting them in a costume that allows them to harness this passion allows them to feel confident and organized. Try a character costume or theme that they are familiar with or passionate about—who’s their favorite character?—or costumes like teachers, doctors, queens, kings, coaches, and movie directors.
Unaware yet deep thinker
This Sensory Emotional Personality™ really benefits from big sensory experiences! Give your child a job to do between houses such as carrying their own treat bag (which will get heavier as the night goes on), help push a wagon holding coats and water bottles or a sibling, or race to the next house together. This input builds their awareness of their body and their environment and will help them stay connected with those around them.
These individuals, while seemingly daydreaming, are often falling deep into thought. Deep thinking becomes their strength, and these individuals likely represent the great thinkers of our world, the theorists and conceptualists. To embrace their strength of deep thought, try costumes like inventors or historical figures. On the other hand, falling into deep thought can cause them to feel disconnected, putting them in costumes that encourage exploration helps them to feel connected and interested in sharing experiences with others. Try costumes like animal safari guides, treasure hunters, archaeologists, or astronauts.
Needy yet compassionate
Kids with this Sensory Emotional Personality™ tend to feel weak and need more help than others. They light up and feel strong and brave when they get the opportunity to be a helper or rescuer. Putting them in a helper costume will invite them to feel strong and brave and to power through the long experience of trick-or-treating with physical endurance and strength. Try costumes like doctors, nurses, rescue rangers, and ambulance drivers.
Confused yet full of wonder
Children with this Sensory Emotional Personality™ can feel confused and move in ways that mismatch what is expected. Work together to make predictions as to how the day may go. Talk about what you think may happen based on prior experiences, how that may make you feel, and how you may respond to tricky or unexpected scenarios.
These individuals can be full of wonder—wondering how things fit together, how to best accomplish a task, and how things work. When they find their strength of wonder, they can spend a lot of time tinkering and experimenting with things, like little inventors. Try costumes like scientists, astronauts, chefs, and construction workers.