Health Watch — Halloween: More Spooky than Fun?

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about getting ready for Halloween, costume parties and other fall festivals. For many of us, Halloween offers a safe scare — an opportunity to pretend to be someone else or get a jolt out of a haunted house. But some children may not enjoy that.

Dr. Pete Stavinoha, a pediatric neuropsychiatrist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says you shouldn’t push an unwilling or frightened child into Halloween activities. It can be bad for a child to be put into a frightening situation. Children may not yet have developed the ability to tell when a scary-seeming situation is really safe, and that may set off a panic. If a child is afraid to go trick-or-treating, go before dark and stay with the child. Or you could plan an alternative activity, such as staying home and watching a movie or playing games. If a child really doesn’t want to go trick-or-treating, to a haunted house or to a costume party, it isn’t worth forcing the issue.

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October 2008

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