Paula McMurray-Schwarz, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, (515) 294-0785
Michelle Johnson, News Service, (515) 294-8986
ISU RESEARCHER SAYS PARENTS SHOULD KNOW A CHILD'S LEVEL OF COMPREHENSION AT HALLOWEEN
AMES, Iowa -- Paula McMurray-Schwarz, assistant professor of child development at Iowa State University, says Halloween can prove quite scary when young children are urged to participate in activities they aren't capable of understanding.
"Parents should consider the social and emotional development of their children when selecting Halloween activities," said McMurray-Schwarz. "Haunted houses and Halloween costumes can be extremely traumatic to youngsters who aren't capable of understanding the difference between fantasy and reality."
For toddlers who are trying to develop trust, costumes can be confusing. They are able to recognize the voice behind the costume, but the visual identity is not there, said McMurray- Schwarz. She advises parents to let toddlers help them or a sibling dress for Halloween. This enables them to directly witness the transformation from reality to pretend.
Because pre-kindergartners are developing a sense of independence, it is important to allow them to select their own costume while giving them several choices, said McMurray- Schwarz. She also suggests involving youngsters in the dress- up process and letting them do their own make-up despite the possible results.