Free Story Time & Dinner: October 6, 2016

Come out for a free dinner, an opportunity to socialize, and a story and play time for the kids. Each child can choose a new, free book to take home.

Thursday, October 6, 2016, 5:45 – 7:00 p.m.
Harley Hopkins Family Center
125 Monroe Ave. S., Hopkins

Reserve your space (required) today: Email Kathryn Moore or call 952-988-5046. Recommended for parents with children ages birth to two years. Older siblings welcome. More information here.

Boo! Young Children and Halloween

Halloween is a time for scares, tricks, and spooky stories, right? Some young children seem ready to embrace Halloween and all the scariness that it has to offer, and some children are much more likely to hide from the ghosts and goblins. As a parent, this time of year helps you to quickly learn what your child is able to handle in terms of thrills and excitement.

Children under the age of seven still have the tendency to confuse fantasy and reality, and so the child who looks like he is enjoying a thrill may later that day become scared about what he saw.

The staff at Harley Hopkins Family Center has discussed ideas for helping you navigate the spooky stuff in a way that best meets your child’s attitude toward the holiday. Here are some of our tips:

1. Halloween really celebrates spooky, but sometimes the excitement of the holiday can be too much for our youngest children. Parents often need to advocate for their child. Control the environment and expose children only to what they are ready to handle. If a party is getting too scary,  go home. Avoid areas of the store that might have Halloween displays that are too scary. If your child sees someone in a scary mask, you could ask that person to take off the mask to confirm with your child that it is just a costume, not real.

2. Our children need us to follow their lead during this holiday. This means we respect what they are willing and able to do during Halloween. We love to see kids in costumes, and we remember our own years of joyfully running in our outlandish outfits and gathering all that candy. However, young children may not be willing to even put on a costume. This is very common for the young child because the costume itself may be uncomfortable, or the child is not comfortable “becoming” someone different—even for a day. Masks can be especially difficult for young children to tolerate, as it is extremely difficult to see behind those tiny holes designed for eyes.

If your child is uncomfortable in a costume, acknowledge that this may not be the year for a costume. Parents can help children participate by handing out candy at the door rather than dressing up to trick-or-treat.

3. Are you and your child ready for the excitement of Halloween? Practice what you will be doing that evening. Talk with your child about what to expect. Talk about the people she will see in costumes. Talk a lot about how these people are pretending. Discuss what to say at the door of the neighbor’s house—both “trick-or-treat” and “thank you!” Remind your child that they are not to have any candy until they are back at their house.

4. Remember, also, to keep your expectations realistic: go trick or treating while it is still light out or during dusk (there will be lots of fun years ahead when your child will be old enough to brave the scary dark spooky Halloween experience) and feel free to go home when your child is tired of it (they are usually satisfied with the experience after just a few houses). Lastly, be sure to dress for the weather. Halloween in Minnesota often means the costume is covered by a winter jacket, mittens, scarf, and hat. Better to be warm on Halloween night than to catch a cold that lasts a week or more!

5. Enjoy Halloween with your young child! These sweet years quickly give way to haunted houses and scary parties and nights out with friends. Enjoy as a family the celebration of Halloween as a young child needs to see it.

The staff at the Fred Rogers Company provide more information on dress up, costumes and Halloween. Learn about young children’s idea of pretend and real, and follow their lead on how they want to experience the scariest holiday of the year. This can help your whole family enjoy the spooks and tricks of the season in these early years of childhood.

Not quite ready to step in…

As this school year starts, new adventures await our children. Some students run into a room and embrace all they see; others tend to hang on the outskirts of the room and watch all that is happening with the studiousness of a keen observer. Parents often worry if their child is not naturally inclined to jump into a situation, wondering if this means that their child is unlikely to be involved. The staff at Harley Hopkins Family Center would like to share what they know to be true about these more reserved children. With more information, a parent of a cautious child can confidently watch as her child enters into a new situation in her own time.

A reserved child is often excited about the activity at hand, but is not yet ready to trust those involved. Therefore this child will take her time to understand the people, the situation, and the expectations before becoming too engaged. This is a trait we appreciate greatly in teenagers; that thoughtful moment before awarding trust is sometimes what keeps them out of situations that could be harmful to them. As your young child is showing this same self-preservation skill, remember to offer positive statements about what they are doing. As a parent we can show understanding by saying:

  • You want to take your time
  • It is ok to watch
  • You will join in when you are ready
  • Let’s explore together – you can stay close to me

With these statements, you are letting your child know that tuning in to how she is feeling about a situation is acceptable and beneficial.

It is helpful for parents to show that new situations and new people can be trusted. A reserved child is often trying to read the situation, and she will use your reaction to help her make her decisions. You can boost her confidence by showing that you are comfortable with it yourself:

  • Provide your child with information about what is to come, so she knows what to expect
  • Talk with the new people, and show that you feel comfortable with them
  • After leaving the new situation, talk about and focus on the positive parts of the activity or people

These actions will help your child learn what it is they should be looking for as they assess whether or not they can trust others in new situations.

A teacher will often assess the level of reservation in each of his students and act accordingly. For this reason, you might notice a much softer approach toward your cautious child when a teacher first meets her. Your teacher will be less likely to come right up to your child. He will be more likely to match his interaction level to that of your child. By matching the level of interaction, the teacher is allowing for a respectful space to build trust. This trust will be much stronger if it is not rushed.

Remember that the words you choose to describe your cautious child can have an impact on her self-image. A child will see her approach to new situations positively when she is described as reserved, cautious, intuitive, or as a person who takes time to think about a situation. The word “shy” is often applied inappropriately in these situations: a person can feel shy, but “shy” is not a character trait. (Just as a person can feel angry, but she is not an angry person all the time).

Looking for a book that helps children to see their approach in a positive light? Joy Berry has written a book entitled “Let’s talk about being shy.” The book stresses the feeling of being shy, and discusses ways for children to build trust in new people and situations.

All of us feel a bit shy sometimes, it is a natural approach to new experiences. Offering support to our youngest children will help them to be confident in the way they handle this feeling.