Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

News

October 10, 2012

Parents urged to use caution with young haunted-house goers

Greensburg — Fall’s Annual Rite of Spookiness has descended, and besides candy and cooler weather (and a few tricks here and there), Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without haunted houses.

Although many adults and teens love these yearly, staged mini-horror productions, however, according to Centerstone Clinic Coordinator and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Kelly S. Benedict, LMST, young children might not love them as much as they think they will.

“Haunted houses can be a real shock for a young child who’s never been exposed to one,” Benedict said. “Kids get extremely excited; they feed off their parent’s enthusiasm. Plus, haunted houses just sound magical and fun.”

If parents don’t talk to their children about what the experience will be like, the reality of a haunted house can be much different from the perception, Benedict added.

“I see this all the time with clients,” the therapist explained. “Someone jumps out at a haunted house and grabs the child, and he or she is completely unprepared. It puts them in a complete state of shock; it can be very traumatic.”

The key, Benedict continued, is for parents to talk to their children about the haunted-house experience beforehand.

“Tell them what to expect,” she advised. “Ask them: ‘How will you feel if someone jumps out and grabs you or screams in your face?’ Communication is key. Parents need to be sure their kids can differentiate reality from fantasy and make-believe.”

Benedict also strongly cautioned against parents taking children who’ve been through a traumatic event.

“I usually discourage taking a child who’s been through something traumatic,” she said, “because a haunted house can serve as an emotional trigger for such children, giving rise to extreme anxiety and painful memories. They find themselves feeling fearful in a situation that’s supposed to be fun, and it ruins the experience.”  

Theresa Kruczek, a counseling educator at Ball State University, added, “Preschool children and those in early elementary school often have a difficult time with Halloween. Some may say they understand when things are make believe and when they are not, but it still may not register when the event occurs.”

Kruczek went a step further, adding scary movies and costumes to the list of Halloween traditions parents should be cautious of exposing young children to.

“Parents should reach for a can of anti-monster spray before bedtime,” Kruczek suggested. “After a frightening experience children may have nightmares. They [children] really can’t tell us too much about the dream, but we can take precautions to ward off those dreams by using a can of air freshener, otherwise known as anti-monster spray, to keep monsters at bay. Monsters don’t like nice-smelling stuff.”

Benedict added that, in her practice, she doesn’t designate a set age for when children will or won’t be ready for haunted houses or other, scarier Halloween trappings.

“Children are all different,” Benedict said. “They all have different baseline anxiety levels and degrees of inherent skittishness and fearfulness. Parents should always consider a child’s unique personality traits before exposing that child to a haunted house.”

Kruczek also offered the following guidelines regarding young children and Halloween: “Parents should limit preschoolers to 30 minutes or less of Halloween-related activities; parents should ask friends and strangers to remove masks to show children that it really is a person under the costume; parents and siblings should never wear masks around youngsters who are afraid of them.”

“Just because you love haunted houses doesn’t mean your 4-year-old will,” Kruczek concluded. “Remember: Parents are the best judge of their child’s abilities. If they freak out during a scary movie, they’ll freak out at a haunted house or when someone in a scary outfit comes by.”

Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.

 

1
Text Only
News
  • 'Carl Fisher' Historical Marker to be dedicated in Greensburg A public dedication ceremony for an Indiana state historical marker commemorating American entrepreneur, Carl Fisher, is scheduled for 5 p.m., May 16, at the Washington Street entrance to the Decatur County Courthouse, located at 150 Courthouse Squar

    April 17, 2014

  • nws-gb041714-st. maurice photo 1 St. Maurice close to municipal water ST. MAURICE -- A failing well at their rural home has forced Pat Kramer and his family to take long breaks between water-heavy activities such as washing clothes and taking showers. When the well was drilled in 1977, it delivered 18 gallons of water

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • nwsgb041714-chautauqua panelists pic Elvis, '70s history makers highlight Chautauqua GREENSBURG - Reports of an Elvis sighting in Greensburg Tuesday night, however unsubstantiated, might not have been all that far from the truth. A man in a sparkling white tiger-themed jump suit took the stage at the Greensburg Community High School

    April 17, 2014 3 Photos

  • Decatur County Events Calendar Local clubs, service groups, fraternal organizations and others are encouraged to send their Coming Events information to the Daily News at news@greensburgdailynews.com or Daily News, PO Box 106, Greensburg, IN 47240. April 17 6 to 7:30 p.m. - Crunch

    April 17, 2014

  • Farmers can sign up for disaster assistance now U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Julia A. Wickard announced April 9 that farmers can sign up for disaster assistance programs, reestablished and strengthened by the 2014 Farm Bill, beginning Tue

    April 17, 2014

  • Commission tweaks sign ordinance GREENSBURG -- When City Engineer Gary Murray tried recently to enforce the local sign law, he noticed that he lacked the statutory powers. Last June, after years of discussion, committees and disagreements with some local business owners, the Greensb

    April 17, 2014

  • nws-gb041714- Pirate signs pic- page 1 Local banks fund Pirate championship signs GREENSBURG - Many local residents may have noticed the new additions to the "Welcome to Greensburg" signs posted at the five main entrances to the city. The Daily News spoke to Greensburg Mayor Gary Herbert to learn more about the new signs and how t

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SDES “Pinocchio” is great family fun

    WESTPORT – Fifth and sixth grade students at South Decatur Elementary School (SDES) will stage a production of Disney’s “My Son Pinocchio Jr.” at 7 p.m. on April 24 and 25 at the school.

    After the roles were cast, students began practicing under the tutelage of SDES music teacher Karen Meeker in September.

    April 16, 2014

  • nws-gb041614-layton library lecture - pic - pg1 Jonestown survivor tells cautionary tale of history GREENSBURG -- Deborah Layton's nightmares of Jonestown ceased long ago, but even after all these years, one dream yet remains. It's a dream of her mother and it's very simple, Layton explained. She was speaking to a group of Decatur Countians Monday

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • At a glance... Obituary: Velma Carrie Lutes, 86 At a glance Courthouse closed for Good Friday Absentee voting will be closed at the Decatur County Courthouse Friday due to the closure of the courthouse in observance of Good Friday. Absentee voting is open from no

    April 16, 2014