"It's not about age," Taback said. And then there is common sense: "What you need to be aware of is what's developmentally appropriate. Blood and guts flying out from the ceiling atop a 6-year old probably isn't the best thing."
Then again, she said, "At least if a parent is there, it can explained and grasped. Children can be very concrete. So they need an outlet to discuss these things. Haunted houses can be a lot of fun for young kids. So can Halloween. But it's valuable to have an adult nearby."
Halloween is about candy and masks, but it's also about crossing that comfort line: a crazy day when a kid can stroll through a haunted house, ring a doorbell and see the unfamiliar face of someone who gives him or her candy, talk about ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night. It should be a little scary; let them handle it.
More than ever, parents today seem obsessively determined to do more than merely observe and (if needed) explain. We unnecessarily hold our kids back a year of school in the name of "getting ahead." We present every member of every youth team with a season-ending medal, even if they went 0-11 and scored -23 goals. We kick off the school year by demanding principals place our precious darlings with just the right teacher in just the right environment with just the right classmates. We coddle and comfort and make certain no step will be taken without a fluffy pillow to fall back upon.
Well, to hell with that. Unless your child is absolutely petrified beyond belief (like, ahem, my son), find the nearest haunted house, plunk down the $20 and take your children for the most frightening little walk of their lives.
Then watch as they scream their heads off -- and rave about it right after.
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