You probably can FEEL the anticipation in your classroom. And if you’ve been to your neighborhood big box store lately, you know it’s coming.
Aisles of candy. Aisles of costumes…from the cute ones to the scary, gory ones. Aisles of decorations. Halloween is just around the corner.
As a trauma-informed teacher, you know holidays are times you need to be intentional. Halloween is one where you REALLY need to be intentional, especially with students who've been impacted by trauma.
The bottom line is trauma and Halloween do not go well together.
Children who’ve been impacted by trauma don’t manage anxiety well. They don’t manage transitions well. They don’t manage sensory stimuli very well.
Throw in Halloween and all the things that go along with that and you throw TRIGGERS into the mix. Frightening triggers.
How Triggers Affect a Child
Halloween can be FULL of triggers for kiddos who've been impacted by trauma.
Once in survival, they tend to go to FIGHT, FLIGHT, or FREEZE. And we all know, that is not a place we want to send our students. We want them to feel SAFE!
When they are in survival, there is no frontal cortex thinking going on. They are triggered. And any logical reasoning has gone out the window!
Triggers at Halloween for Kids Impacted by Trauma
For neurotypical students, they usually can determine the difference between and reality. Students who've been impacted by trauma, often are not able to do so.
What does that mean when it comes to Halloween?
It means that when the child sees a scary movie, sees a scary or gory costume, or hears scary sounds such as shrieks and scary music, they are not able to see it as reality. They sense fear and are triggered...sending them right into FIGHT, FLIGHT, or FREEZE.
While they may not show it on the outside, adrenaline has kicked in and they are now operating out of survival.
They no longer feel safe.
How to Celebrate Halloween Without Sending a Child to Survival
So...if your school celebrates Halloween, there are some things you can do to still make it fun, but ensure that ALL of your students continue to feel safe.