Ground Control Parenting – Carol Sutton Lewis

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Ages 13-15

Halloween is Almost Here! Helping Your Kids Handle Scary Movies

Halloween is tomorrow, and scary movies are everywhere. From the “Halloween” reboot and “Venom” in the theaters to countless horror movies running on TV and available on demand, it will be pretty easy for your children to get their fill of frights over the next few days. But can they handle it?

Common Sense Media offers a guide to help you find age appropriate scary movies for your kids. For the youngest ones (under 7), it recommends sticking with nothing scarier than “Boo!”. Children this young have a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality –- even if you tell them “it’s not real.” Children tend to have sleep problems, irrational fears, and obsessions with things like zombies if they been too frightened. Comforting them with lots of hugs, a glass of water, and perhaps an elaborate monster removal or two at bedtime will be helpful.

Middle schoolers are more likely to want bigger thrills, but not all kids that age want to be scared. Around Halloween particularly, sleepovers featuring scary movies are popular. If your son or daughter is not a fan and is going to a sleepover, encourage him or her to find out any movie watching plans in case a scary one is planned. Even if your child is fine with scary movies you may want to check with the parents to see what’s playing to make sure it is age appropriate.

High school kids can handle psychological suspense, but children under 16 should stay away from slasher films. Keep an eye on what they are going to see. As the Common Sense guide notes, “Many scary movies now pair horrific graphic violence with sexual situations –- not a great combination for kids exploring newfound sexuality. Be sure to talk with them about the content of the movie they’re seeing and the messages it may convey.”

If your kids are eager to see scary movies and you want to ease them into it, check out the reviews of these “Scary(But Not TOO Scary) Halloween Movies” from Common Sense. You can also check out “Halloween Movies for Wimps” (don’t show your kids the title), a collection of classics and more recent releases, many of which will appeal to middle and high schoolers.

Taking the time to monitor what your children are watching these days will help ensure they have a Happy Halloween. What are your favorite family Halloween movies? Let us know. Happy Halloween to you all!

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