How Storytelling Can Ease Your Child's Fears This Halloween

Oct 31, 2014

Tonight, kids across Texas head door-to-door in search of Halloween candy. But some parents may fear more than a fleeting sugar rush – Halloween can also fill children's heads with scary and gory imagery that's tough to dislodge.

While Halloween's filled with all manner of things that go bump in the night, it also offers parents the chance to address their kids fears.

David Sewell McCann knows a thing or two about talking to kids. His "Sparkle Stories" podcast offers original children's stories each week – including stories that can put confusing or frightening events into context. 

McCann tells Texas Standard's David Brown that instead of listing reasons why your child shouldn't be scared, parents can use stories to meet their kids' fears. And with an improvised story, McCann he shows exactly how parents can do that.

Here's some interview highlights:

On the connection between stories and Halloween:

"Stories – I really see them as the way in which we make meaning. So I think we use stories all day long even, if they don’t belong with 'once upon a time.' But Halloween is a real invitation to use stories in a lot of different ways."

The therapeutic value of fear: 

"The unknown is even amplified [during Halloween] … Now we have this openness, a vulnerability that night, and part of that is beneficial. It is time to walk into that darkness and face a fear. ... There’s actually something potentially therapeutic about that – to actually try on the thing you’re scared of. But in that vulnerable place you are also available to be scared in a way that may take some undoing or unwinding from. And I really think stories could help with that."

Some advice for parents spinning their own stories:

"Make room for yourself to be surprised too. Don’t enter into this trying to architect something that nails it; instead be willing to just make a mess of it."

Listen to the full interview – and an original story McCann composed for Texas Standard – in the audio player above. You can also download four additional Halloween stories at the "Sparkle Stories" website and get more stories through iTunes.