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
  • nws-gb073114 miss tree city preview photo Miss Tree City to be named in Saturday ceremony GREENSBURG — Five contestants will vie Saturday to serve as Miss Tree City and to reign over the Tree City Fall Festival in late September.The competition will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Greensburg Learning Center, 422 E. Central Ave. Admission

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • nws-gb073114 Steam show 1 jpg Indiana Pioneer Engineers Club Steam Engine Show and Reunion starts today The 66th annual Indiana Pioneer Steam Engine Show and Reunion will be held beginning today and continue through Aug. 3 at Caldwell Acres, 3707 South CR 200W. For more than half a century, Rush County has hosted members and visitors from all over the

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Inside Indiana Business with Indiana with Gerry Dick Grants Boost Arts InitiativesMore than 260 groups and individuals are sharing in nearly $2.7 million to support arts programs. The Indiana Arts Commission says the funding is from federal and state sources and will go to organizations including the

    July 31, 2014

  • Thank you for helping fight child abuse Thank you for fighting child abuseDear Editor:My name is Bill Parsons, this year’s organizer of the Devin Lee Parsons Never Be Forgotten Ride, Fighting Against Child Abuse.I want to thank all our sponsors; you have all helped us get closer to our goa

    July 31, 2014

  • nws-gb073114-lions club pic Greensburg Lions seeking new members for service GREENSBURG – =Newly-elected president Darryl Cruser opened his first meeting of the Greensburg Lions Club Monday evening at the Decatur County REMC meeting room.The Lions enjoyed a delicious dinner catered by Koch’s for their monthly meeting and chat

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • 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. All July – International Crafts

    July 31, 2014

  • Young's Social Impact Bond Act a bipartisan effort ANN ARBOR, Mich. – We live in an era of eroding faith in government while we face an array of intractable problems.U.S. Rep. Todd Young entered Congress as part of the 2010 Tea Party wave that was fueled by distrust of an expanding federal government

    July 31, 2014

  • Man dies in collision with semi GREENSBURG – Police say a Greensburg man died early Wednesday from injuries sustained when his car collided with a semi trailer at the intersection of State Road 3 and Highway 421.Information provided by Greensburg Chief of Police Stacey Chasteen sta

    July 31, 2014

  • nws-gb073114-youth to yellowstone pic 2 Yellowstone trip forges friendships, lasting memories GREENSBURG – It took about 26 hours for several local students to travel by van to Yellowstone National Park earlier this month, but it took far less time for the group to become friends of the closest kind.Soon-to-be seniors from all three local hig

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Club Chatter Night Club Extension HomemakersThe Night Club met July 2, 2014 at the home of Liz Hally with Janet Bedel as “absentee” co-hostess. Seven members were in attendance with one guest, Isabell Royce. Loretta Macyauski, vice president, opened the meeting b

    July 30, 2014