Tag Archives: Halloween

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts: How to Handle Your Child’s Supernatural Sightings

Ghosts and Kids

It’s Halloween time again—neighborhoods are filled with decorations featuring witches, ghosts, gravestones, and more. Children are excited about the prospect of trick-or-treating and are planning their costumes. With this increased focus on Halloween, this time of year may also come with an increase in children talking about the supernatural or worrying more about ghosts, monsters, or more.

If a child expresses that they think they have seen something scary or supernatural, there can be several explanations. Most commonly, these statements are related to the fact that young children have difficulty separating fantasy from reality. Children are hard-wired to learn through imaginative and pretend play and therefore they can slip between reality and fantasy much more easily than adults. Also, children’s visual perception skills develop most quickly in infancy and toddlerhood, but these skills are still developing throughout early childhood so they are also more likely than adults to misperceive a visual stimulus. Therefore, while an adult might dismiss something they see quickly out of the corner of their eye as “nothing” or have a reality-based explanation, children might insist they saw a ghost or a fairy or some other creature.  Additionally, this perception feels real to them and they might get upset if an adult tries to convince them otherwise.

We also have to look to what the response to this declaration is. Attention is the currency of childhood – if a young child who states he or she has seen a supernatural gets a great deal of attention for that statement, he or she is much more likely to make such a statement again in the future. It goes back to basic principles of rewards: behavior that gets rewarded continues and attention is a great reward for most children. We must also look at the function of the behavior. Does declaring that there is a monster under the bed delay the separation from parents at bedtime that can be challenging for many children? In this case, the reward is the parent staying in the room longer.

Of course, more than one of these issues can be at play at any given time. A young child may genuinely misperceive a sight or sound as being a monster, their difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality leads them to fully believe that monsters are real, and then they are rewarded with time, attention, possibly some soothing from parents, and with the delay of the separation at bedtime.

So what’s a parent to do?

Start with validating the child’s concern or fear, while helping them distinguish reality from fantasy. Sometimes offering an explanation can help allay fears, for example, letting them know that at this time of year witches and ghosts and the like are on our minds more. If attention seems to be motivating the behavior, decrease the amount of attention you provide for these statements and increase the amount of attention you give to other things they say. For example, a statement about seeing a ghost gets a brief “Uh-huh” while a statement about what they are doing or the dog they see outside gets an enthusiastic “Wow! That’s great! What color was the dog?” A quick “monster check” at bedtime is typically fine for a young child, but as children get older parents should help with differentiating fantasy from reality and reminding them that monsters are not real.

Aleta G. Angelosante, PhD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health. She is a child psychologist and the Clinical Director of the Anita Saltz Institute for Anxiety and Mood Disorders at the Child Study Center, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Fun Halloween Events for Kids

Halloween is a favorite time of year for New York City kids.  And NYC really goes all out to celebrate Halloween with week-long Halloween events planned for all kinds of interests whether dance or music or cooking or zoo fun.  Read on for the best activities around town.


Halloween Events

Snow White/Dwarfs Dance Workshop. Enjoy reenacting the childhood favorite fairy-tale about Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs! At In Grandma’s Attic. Upper West Side. TH 10/25 @3:30-5:30pm

james

Music with James Halloween Party. Join Music with James for his always-popular Halloween costume parties. It’s everything you and your kids love about Music with James, with a Halloween twist. Murray Hill. TH 10/25 @10-11am

Halloween Events

Pajama Story Time : Haunted Habitats. Take a VIP tour around the zoo at night and then enjoy animal encounters inside the classroom. For families and children age 4+. At Queens Zoo. FRI 10/26 @5:30-8pm

Halloween Events

Spooktacular Night Walk. Get ready for a ‘Spooktacular’ evening as your family stay behind in the zoo while everyone else leaves. Meet creepy, crawly animal guests then enjoy a pizza dinner. Take a night walk and see what happens when the gates close! At Bronx Zoo. FRI 10/26 or SAT 10/27 @5-7pm

Halloween Events

Halloween Haunted Houses Workshop. Celebrate the season and design your own gingerbread house. At Taste Buds Kitchen in Chelsea. SAT 10/27 @9-10am

Halloween Events

The Pumpkin Fairies & Elves Ballet Workshop. Based on The Queen Bee Ballet, an original story and ballet created by Deborah Bailay of In Grandma’s Attic. Upper West Side. SAT 10/27 @10am-12pm

Halloween Events

OKABOO Kids’ Halloween Party and Parents’ Date Night. FUNtastic Halloween Party for kids and Date Night for parents! At OKABALOO FunArtFaktory – Arts & Fun Center in Long Island City. SAT 10/27 @5-9pm

Halloween Events

OKABOO Halloween Crazy Science Show. Children will learn how to make Horror Ice and Spooky Slime. Treats will be served!  At OKABALOO FunArtFaktory – Arts & Fun Center  in Long Island City. SUN 10/28 @10-11am

Halloween Events

Halloween Spooky Cupcakes Workshop. Join in the SPOOK-tacular celebration and whip up oh-so-delicious Spooky Cupcakes complete with Monsters and Spiderwebs. At Taste Buds Kitchen in Chelsea. TUE 10/30 @11:30am-12:30pm

Trick or (Sugar-Free) Treat? The Importance of Limiting Your Child’s Sugar Intake This Halloween

trick-or-treatMany families view Halloween as the biggest “cheat day” of the year, where they can binge on all the candy the kids collect from around the neighborhood. While trick-or-treating and snacking on the candy they collect is fun and exciting for your children, it’s important to remember that a massive influx of candy and sugary treats can often derail the hard work spent on limiting sugar intake the rest of the year. While a small amount of sugar may prove harmless for many kids, the difficulty in managing the sheer quantity the candy in one night is a challenge, and having a plan in place before Halloween night is key in managing expectations for both parents and kids.

-Think about whether you want to limit sugar or avoid it all together this Halloween. Consider that sugar intake increases your child’s risk for cavities, excessive weight gain, and of course belly aches.
-Want to limit sugar but stumped on what to replace it with? The pumpkin—a multipurpose tool on Halloween—is a great, healthy food choice. In addition to painting the outside, you can make use of the pumpkin flesh (or canned pumpkin puree) and seeds to cook with.
—Try sprinkling coconut oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg on pumpkin seeds, and baking in the oven on 400°F until warm and toasty (around 10 minutes).
—Use pumpkin puree to paint scary faces on apple slices and crackers. You might also try using raisins, dried fruit pieces, and peanut butter dollops to create some spooky faces and ghostly shapes.
-Finding a new and improved version of old school trick-or-treating may help with limiting the sugar rush as well. Maybe trick-or-treating this year is a backyard activity with your kids and their friends, or perhaps a costume competition with a few neighbors. Having the kids involved in the planning ramps up excitement and gives them ownership over creating this new tradition.
-Another way to go sugarless this Halloween is to focus on other sources of “treats” and rewards unrelated to food. Offer your kiddo the chance to trade candy in for movie tickets, favorite school supplies, flavored lip glosses or temporary tattoos.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Ayelet Goldhaber, MS, RD is a registered dietician in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Program at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.

Tricks and Treats to Keep Your Family Healthy This Halloween

halloween

With Halloween fast approaching, many households find themselves filled with mini bags of M&Ms and fun-sized candy bars scattered throughout the cupboards. Part of being a kid is trick-or-treating and trading candy for the best loot. Kids should always be kids and enjoy dressing up and collecting bags filled with chocolate, lollipops, and other sugary treats. This does not mean that they need to gorge themselves on candy, which will only lead to stomach aches and sugar crashes—a situation more frightening than a haunted house! Try these tips for keeping meals healthy and kids happy.

1. Keep a balanced perspective. To support healthy habits, set rules before Halloween treats flood your house about how much candy can be eaten on any given day. Try one fun-sized candy bar in lunch boxes balanced with their usual healthy sandwich and fruit. Decide ahead of time (with your kids) that 1 regular candy bar is equivalent to 2-3 fun sized bars and share after dinner. By keeping the usual healthy foods in your kids’ diet, the occasional shared indulgence can be part of that overall healthy lifestyle.

2. Freeze the leftovers. Have kids help organize candy by type and preference. After setting aside 15 fun-sized pieces to be eaten over the next week or two, put the rest away in the freezer to be pulled out for later occasions. It will take some of the temptation and immediacy away.

3. Mix it into healthy snacks. Consider taking extra M&M packs or other mini pieces and mix them in with dried fruit and nuts to pack as an after-school trail mix snack.

4. Give it to others. Encourage kids to make care packages for grandparents or other relatives, “trick or treat” it back to the doorman, or bring it to school for a favorite teacher. Nursing homes, children’s hospitals, and other charities also accept candy donations after Halloween. Giving candy back will help to encourage sharing, while keeping excess candy out of the house.

Remember, many kids have various food allergies that may affect their trick-or-treating experience. The Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) organization has been working to promote the Teal Pumpkin Project, which encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies and support all kids participating in Halloween, while avoiding risk of allergic reaction. FARE asks participants to provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters, place a teal pumpkin in front of your home or apartment door to indicate that you have non-food treats available, and consider displaying signs or posters from FARE to explain the meaning of the teal pumpkin and encourage others to consider joining in! For more information about the project, visit http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project/faqs.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Bridget Murphy, MS, RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian and clinical nutritionist at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. 

Helping Trick-or-Treaters with Food Allergies, One Teal Pumpkin at a Time

Teal Pumpkin
Before stocking up on Halloween candy this year, consider this: according to Food Allergy Research and Education Inc., 1 in every 13 trick-or-treaters ringing your doorbell this year may have a food allergy—and in many cases are allergic to the treats you are handing out. The top eight food allergens that cause about 90% of reactions are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish; reactions to allergens vary from mild symptoms of itchy mouth or throat to very severe consequences like anaphylaxis. Aside from having a food allergy, there are countless other medically indicated reasons why children need to adhere to special diets. In our country, more than three million people2 have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that damages the lining of the intestine when gluten from wheat, barley, or rye is consumed. Irritable bowel syndrome and epilepsy are two other conditions that may require special diets to mitigate symptoms.

Teal 2While some really helpful resources exist, like the Celiac Disease Foundation’s 2015 Gluten-Free Halloween Candy List, it can still be daunting to find Halloween candy that’s suitable for each trick-or-treater’s special diet needs. A quick read of a Snickers® Bar food label reveals it contains, milk, soy, peanuts, eggs, and may contain tree nuts. Tootsie Pops, although gluten and peanut free, contain soy and milk, according to the label. Luckily, in 2014, FARE organized a campaign to raise awareness about trick-or-treaters with food allergies, which is also helpful to kids on special diets.

The Teal Pumpkin Project™ encourages households to include kids with food allergies in trick-or-treating by offering non-food treats (playing cards, stickers, bubbles, glow sticks) in place of candy. The mark of a food-allergy safe home offering non-food treats? A teal painted pumpkin on the doorstep (teal is the official color representing food allergy awareness). If you don’t feel up to painting your pumpkin teal, check out FARE’s website for free downloadable signs, pumpkin carving stencils, and coloring pages. In its first year (2014), The Teal Pumpkin Project™ reached trick-or-treaters in all 50 states and seven countries! FARE is challenging 100,000 households to participate this year by taking the Teal Pumpkin Project™ Pledge.

For more information about the NYU Langone Medical Center’s Celiac Disease and Gluten Related Disorders Program, email: celiacdiseaseprogram@nyumc.org

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Jackie Ballou, MS, RD, CDN, Pediatric Nutrition Coordinator and Director of the S.Q.U.A.S.H. Program (Smart choices, Quality ingredients, Unique, Appetizing, Simple & Healthy) at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Sources:

  1. (Children in the U.S., 18 years or younger) http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats
  2. Rubio-Tapia A, Ludvigsson JF, Brantner TL, Murray JA, Everhart JE. The prevalence of celiac disease in the United States. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2012 Oct;107(10):1538–44.