There are plenty of family activities to choose from around Halloween. One popular attraction that pops up around Halloween is the ever popular haunted house. Haunted houses tend to appear in October and capitalize on Halloween. This may seem like a fun family activity, but is it a good thing to do with your young children?
Here are some tips for visiting haunted houses with young children.
Be prepared to leave
If you are visiting a haunted house with young children, you should be prepared to potentially leave early. Even if you don’t think that the haunted house is scary, your three-year-old might. Be aware that there is the possibility that you may need to leave. Even if your kids aren’t scared, with young kids there’s a good chance you may need to abandon the haunted house in order to quickly find a bathroom or change a diaper, find a snack, etc. If you are dead-set on seeing the whole haunted house, then the whole family can get stressed out. Instead, just enjoy as much as you can see, and don’t worry about it if you don’t see everything (this is easier to do if it is a free or cheap haunted house).
Your attitude about the haunted house and your body language can make a big difference to how confident your child is. If you explain in advance that it is just pretend for Halloween, then your children better understand what is happening. Explain the types of things that you might see (for example, the ghosts are really just people dressed up in sheets). If it is in a familiar setting, explain what the building really is and that it’s just pretending to be a haunted house for Halloween.
Once inside the haunted house, smile to show your child that it is enjoyable. Let them be independent and enjoy it, but also be a reassuring presence for them. Young children may want to hold your hand or be carried through parts of a haunted house, and that’s fine.
Pick the Right Haunted House
Not all haunted houses are the same. Some are very gory and really try to shock you, others have Casper style ghosts floating around. Pick the right haunted house for your family. You know your kids, so pick a haunted house that they will enjoy. Do research before going. Ask friends who have been there, read reviews in the local paper or on-line, or even call up the haunted house and ask what ages they think are appropriate.
Pick the Right Time of Day
It’s amazing what a difference it makes to do activities with children at the right time of day. If you go during naptime or mealtime, don’t be surprised if your kids are grumpy (mine would be). Pick a haunted house with family friendly hours (these are more likely to be family appropriate anyway). If you keep your young kids up for hours past bedtime, they are likely to either fall asleep during it, or be terrified and have nightmares when they do make it to bed. It can be difficult, but good scheduling can make a big difference.
Letting little kids dress up in the Halloween costume makes them a part of it. It will be more fun for them because they’re dressed up and participating. It’s just more exciting. It can also make it less scary for them.
If you decide to visit a haunted house this Halloween with your young children, following these tips can help all of you to have a great time and enjoy the holiday.