Montefiore child psychologist offers advice on how to prepare children for a different Halloween

Montefiore Child Psychologist Dr. Polina Umylny speaks about Halloween during COVID-19.
Photo courtesy of Montefiore

While trick-or-treating will be permitted, Halloween will be quite different this year due to COVID-19.

The city recently released guidelines stressing the need for social distancing, handing out candy outside, wearing masks and no large gatherings or parties. But parents may be wondering how children can enjoy one of their favorite holidays during this challenging time.

Montefiore Child Psychologist Dr. Polina Umylny told the Bronx Times that the day filled with candy and costumes could cause many youngsters to be upset.

“It’s important for children’s development that they have opportunities to just be kids,” Umylny said. “So much of this year has been focused on sadness, loss and fear, it’s important that children have the chance to embrace and enjoy typical celebrations, even if things may look a little different. We can prepare children now so that they can still enjoy a day they look forward to all year.”

Umylny stressed how important it is for parents to follow the CDC Halloween guidelines. The doctor explained that many of these kids have been shuttered inside for months, dealing with family members dying or being sick and likely have been looking forward to a night out of candy, friends and getting dressed up.

While some parents may let their children go trick-or-treating, others may not. The holiday will affect each child differently, she said.

“I think some children are going to look frustrated and sad,” she said. “It may feel like a loss.”

Umylny suggested families establish new ways to enjoy this Halloween, like a candy scavenger hunt at home or a Halloween-themed family movie night.

“I think parents are definitely anxious about letting their kids do the traditional Halloween,” she commented. “At the same time they don’t want to create disappointment for the kids.”

Preparing for and celebrating this holiday during the pandemic may help youngsters deal with Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah.

“I think it’s important that we don’t underestimate children’s capacity to deal with change,” she said.

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