Helpful Halloween Tips for Children with Special Needs

 Halloween Tips Image

Helpful Halloween Tips for Children with Special Needs

 

Prepare Early.

Preparing early for the holiday can make or break the event. Gather books, create social stories, look at pictures, and even practice a trial run to prepare for the experience. Books that explain what the holiday is about are helpful, and social stories can help provide a child with expectations for their own experience. Preparing early will also provide time to practice and gain confidence with different social exchanges that can be expected during trick-or-treating. Once everyone is feeling very confident, try a trial run of the day by getting dressed up and visiting the neighbors (with their cooperation, of course).

 

Carving Alternatives.

Carving pumpkins can provide an amazing sensory experience with the different squishy and slimy textures on the inside, however there are other fun options that provide for a safe, knife-free pumpkin experience. Instead of traditional pumpkin carving, try painting and decorating pumpkins instead! This fun alternative allows for a full range of creativity, and keeps little hands away from sharp tools. Plus, painting a pumpkin may be an easier task for a child with fine motor challenges. Check out these crafty designs from CraftBerryBush.com, InLieuofPreschool.com, PlaySational.com, and TheHappierHomemaker.com. (Links to their websites can be found at the bottom of the article.)

 Pumpkins

Create an Emergency Kit.

Be prepared, and create a mini-emergency kit that can fit in a child’s trick-or-treat basket. In a quart-sized Zip-lock bag, gather a flashlight, identification card, whistle, small snack, calming object, and a small map of the neighborhood. This small kit can be hidden in a candy bag, and will come in handy in case of an emergency.

 

Designate a Walking Buddy.

Make sure to find a walking buddy! Finding a trick-or-treating veteran who is familiar with the neighborhood or who has experience trick-or-treating to partner with is another great option for any kid who is having hesitations about the holiday. Having a friend to walk with can provide an extra boost of confidence without feeling like a parent is hovering too much!

 

Do a Trial Run.

Practicing a run-through can also catch any last minute costume alterations that need to be made. Is the costume comfortable? Is it functional? Does the child feel confident wearing the costume? Remember, wearing the costume at home, and wearing the costume out in public can be two entirely different experiences. It’s more important for the child to enjoy the experience, than to struggle through the day with the perfect costume. Having a back-up costume that is simple and easy to wear is also a great idea. There are many great costume ideas that can be created using everyday clothes, which may be more comfortable for the child should he/she need a last minute change. Check out a few of these costume ideas at RealSimple.com:

Halloween Pic 1

Use Reflectors.
Depending on where trick-or-treating takes place, reflectors may be an option. If the area is dark, and eloping is a possibly, reflectors can help spot a child that has strayed off the path. Reflectors can be easily sewn into costumes, and can even add to the design! (Maybe they are extra lights added to a cool robot costume!) Glow sticks are also a great alternative that will look cool with any costume, however they shouldn’t be used if there’s a possibility the child may put them in their mouth due to high toxicity.

 

Discuss Candy Management.
For children with diet restrictions, trick-or-treating can be an obstacle. Frankly, for any parent trick-or-treating can be stressful, as children are encouraged to binge-eat mounds of sugary candy. Prepare ahead of time for how the candy will be used. Eating it all in one sitting or whenever a child wants does not have to be an option. Use an old fish bowl or an old canning jar as a reward jar to keep the candy in. Discuss with the child before hand when and how the candy can be earned throughout the week (i.e. Three pieces after homework is completed, two pieces after each chore completed, or two pieces after finishing all of dinner, etc.).   This alternative option still allows for the child to keep all their candy, but prevents them from consuming it all at once. Another great option is to donate the Halloween treats. Many different organizations offer buy back programs where children can bring in their candy as a donation, and receive money in return. There are several great causes available that offer buy back programs: go to www.halloweencandybuyback.com to find a buyback near you, or check out SanDiegoFamily.com for more way to give back Halloween candy: https://www.sandiegofamily.com/things-to-do/seasonal-happenings/1481-12-ways-to-give-back-halloween-candy

 

Create a Back-up Plan.

Create a back-up plan if trick-or-treating does not go as planned. Handing out candy at the house or attending a small Halloween party are both great alternatives if trick-or-treating ends early. Handing out candy at the door is a great way to still participate in the festivities while getting social interaction as well.

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Pumpkin pictures provided by:

Alien: http://www.playsational.com/painted-pumpkin-ideas/

Minion: http://www.craftberrybush.com/2012/10/painted-pumpkinsminions.html

Multi-colored: http://www.inlieuofpreschool.com/a-fun-and-easy-way-to-paint-pumpkins/

Monsters Inc.: http://www.thehappierhomemaker.com/2013/10/monsters-university-crafts-recipe.html

 

 

 

nessa

Vanessa Lemminger M.A., LMFT 53937
Marital and Family Therapist

vanessalemminger.wordpress.com

 

© Vanessa Lemminger, M.A. Marriage and Family Therapist 53937, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Vanessa Lemminger, Marriage and Family Therapist 53937 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

This blog (https://vanessalemminger.wordpress.com/) is for informational and educational purposes only. No therapist-client relationship arises. The information provided and any comments or opinions expressed are intended for general discussion and education only, even when based on a hypothetical. They should not be relied upon for ultimate decision-making in any specific case. There is no substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health specialist, or even a physician, who could best evaluate and advice based on a careful, considered evaluation of all pertinent facts. Likewise, it is understood that no guarantee or warranty arises from the information provided or discussed on this (https://vanessalemminger.wordpress.com/) blog.

 

 

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Teaching Children to Confront Conflict

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Teaching Children to Confront Conflict

One important lesson for children that is often passed over is learning to confront conflict. When a conflict between two peers occurs – for example, “Mom! Joseph threw his toy at me!” or “Mom! Sarah colored all over my picture and ruined it!” – our first response is usually to intervene and correct any wrongs. We jump in to immediately stop the argument, and dish out punishment. Does this scene look familiar?

“Mom! Joseph threw his toy at me! Then he laughed about it! It hurt really bad!”

Mom enters the room and immediately turns to Joseph.

“Joseph, did you throw your toy at Jacob? That was not okay. If you can’t play nicely then you will have to take a break up in your room. Do you understand?”

Joseph nods silently while giving his mom an apologetic stare.

In this scenario, the child tattles and the parent jumps in to lecture. The child misbehaving learns from the parent what is acceptable behavior, what is not acceptable behavior, and what is expected of him from his parent. The child also learns what consequences the parent will deliver should his behavior not change. All these lessons are important, but what is missing, however, is a lesson on confronting conflict for both children.

The child misbehaving – Joseph, in our example – is interacting with the parent only. The only person he has to apologize to is his mother, and the only reason why he should behave nicely is because his mother will be upset and he will have to take a break in his room. The consequences are dictated and determined by his mother, not his peer. This is often why children will misbehavior with peers when parents or another adult is not present.

Confronting conflict on their own (with the help of a parent), teaches children how their behavior affects their peers, and that regardless of a parent’s reprimand, there are consequences to face with their peers as well. Let’s re-approach our first example:

“Mom! Joseph threw his toy at me! Then he laughed about it! It hurt really bad!”

Mom enters the room and immediately turns to Jacob.

Mom: “Jacob, can you tell Joseph why you are upset?”

Jacob turns to Joseph: “You threw the train at me and it hit my arm! It hurt really bad!”

Mom: “Now it’s your turn to talk Joseph.”

Joseph turns to his mother, but his mother stops him: “Joseph, look at Jacob. Talk to him, not me.”

Joseph turns to Jacob, but his silent. He waits for a few seconds with an apologetic stare: “I was just giving you the train to play.”

Jacob looks at his mom prepared to rebuttal. Mom points back to Joseph with a look of encouragement.

Jacob: “You didn’t give me the toy. You threw it at me. I don’t like to play when you throw things at me.”

Joseph: “I’m sorry Jacob.”

Jacob: “It’s okay.”

In this scenario, instead of the mother being a main part of the dialog, the two children were. Jacob and Joseph were able to confront each other and discuss the conflict themselves. This situation allowed them both to practice confronting conflict, which takes a lot of courage and confidence. It also helps a child learn how to regulate their emotions and anxiety during a state of arousal. Although one child is really upset, he practiced using a calm voice to confront his peer about what was making him upset.

In addition, the children also learn how to take responsibility for their behavior. An argument of “No I didn’t! He did!” is averted when the conflict is kept between the two children. The children do not have to prove who did what, as there is no adult to mediate. The mediation is between the two children. In this situation, Joseph learned how to accept his behavior, and take responsibility for his actions. Both children also learned that it’s okay to make mistakes. When children confront conflict together, there is no “naughty” or “bad” child, just forgiveness.

Lastly, one of the most important lessons learned when a children successfully confront conflict together, is how their behavior affects others. In the conflict above, Jacob stated: “I don’t like to play when you throw things at me.” Their friendship and time together was at stake, which was more valuable to the two children than a short break in their room. When working the conflict out together, children learn there are other consequences to their actions aside from how their parent’s will react. Acceptance from peers is important, and is what will help a child from doing hurtful things in the future when a parent or teacher is not around to see.

Learning how to confront conflict is an important lesson for children that can be practiced every day at home and at school. Take the next moment of crisis during play to teach children how to work the problem out together, accept responsibility, and learn how their behavior affects others around them. Focus less on the consequences, and more on the dialog between the two children. Utilizing these teachable moments will help develop more responsible and emotionally secure children, and will leave you feeling less like a dictator, and more like a peacemaker!

nessa  Vanessa Lemminger M.A., LMFT 53937
Marital and Family Therapist

vanessalemminger.wordpress.com

 

 

 

______________________________________________________________________

© Vanessa Lemminger, M.A. Marriage and Family Therapist 53937, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Vanessa Lemminger, Marriage and Family Therapist 53937 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

This blog (https://vanessalemminger.wordpress.com/) is for informational and educational purposes only. No therapist-client relationship arises. The information provided and any comments or opinions expressed are intended for general discussion and education only, even when based on a hypothetical. They should not be relied upon for ultimate decision-making in any specific case. There is no substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health specialist, or even a physician, who could best evaluate and advise based on a careful, considered evaluation of all pertinent facts. Likewise, it is understood that no guarantee or warranty arises from the information provided or discussed on this (https://vanessalemminger.wordpress.com/) blog.