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A Happy and Healthy Halloween for Young Children

Monday, October 18, 2021

Break out the pumpkins, candy, and costumes. Halloween is here! 

It’s an exciting time for young children and a chance to make family memories that last a lifetime. But Halloween traditions also help children learn and grow, especially with adult support and guidance.

Scary stuff builds emotional regulation skills...when children are ready


Every child develops at their own pace, and this includes their comfort with Halloween. For some, masks and costumes, including ones that seem silly to adults, can be downright terrifying. For others, the scary stuff is simply too fun to pass up.

Regardless of your child’s age or stage of development, warm adult support helps develop emotional regulation skills, including the ability to manage fear in safe, healthy ways. 

Listen, offer comfort and understanding, and steer clear of trying to convince them something isn’t scary with statements like, “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”  Instead, let them know it’s okay to keep having scary fun or to move on to a different activity; it’s their choice.

Positive playtime fosters intellectual and social-emotional growth


Simply by dressing up and inhabiting the role of a character, young children are building language and thinking skills. They’re using their imagination, learning new words, and discovering the world around them.

Halloween also encourages social-emotional growth during family and group events. Holiday-themed arts and crafts projects, meanwhile, build motor skills as well as knowledge of shapes, colors and patterns.

Reading with young ones also opens up new worlds. The Worcester Public Library has an array of holiday-themed children’s books, including e-books you can access from home. Storytime benefits everything from brain development to imagination and helps relationships grow.

Halloween candy is fun and delicious, to a point


Holidays are a good time to take a break from your family’s typical diet, but if your child’s mood is affected by sugar consumption, consider limiting their intake; it can help regulate emotions during exciting Halloween celebrations. Long term, be aware that sugar can harm learning and memory in young children.

The good news is, there’s no rule against limiting your trick-or-treating to just a few homes. You can also stave off sweet tooths with these super-fun and super-healthy homemade treats, like Green Apple Monsters and Veggie Skeletons.

Family-friendly Halloween activities in Central Mass and online


The Worcester area is overflowing with Halloween fun, such as Science Tricks & Animal Treats at the Ecotarium, October 23rd, and the Fall Festival and Corn Maze at West End Creamery, Friday nights and weekends through October 31st. Worcester Public Library, meanwhile, is hosting Crafty Kids: Pumpkin Decorating on October 28th. Space is limited so visit WPL’s online calendar to register.

Looking for alternatives to neighborhood trick-or-treating?  Check out the Barnyard Trick or Treat event in Bolton or Halloween at Worcester Public Market.

Edward Street’s Day of Play website also features Halloween games and activities. The Monster Footprint Hop encourages active physical play and features variations for different age groups, and Monster Slime gets young ones using science skills.

For more Halloween ideas, visit discovercentralma.org or worcestercentralkidscalendar.com.