Children and Halloween: The positive side

The rise of Halloween as a festival in the British calendar seems unstoppable, even if in many parts of the country its popularity has more to do with the reach of American television than the survival of ancient folk customs.

But should we worry that an event aimed at children has such a focus on horror?

The educational psychologist Dr Kairen Cullen, a Chartered Psychologist, is convinced that celebrating Halloween can play a positive part in school life:

“I have worked with teachers who have created a whole day of Halloween-based learning and the buzz and enthusiasm of the pupils evoked interest throughout the school, which lasted for some time after. Opportunities for supporting and developing children’s powers of imagination and creativity are many.”

And another Chartered Psycholgist, Dr Nadja Reissland from the University of Durham, sees nothing to worry about, at least with younger children:

“I cannot see why babies or young children would see any horror in Halloween. Rather I believe they would be interested in the pumpkin and the candles flickering in it – and possibly the special foods offered too.”

Dr  Cullen, however, does see possible difficulties with school-age children:

“There  needs to be a lot of emphasis upon the make-believe and fun aspects of Halloween by school staff plus a particularly watchful eye on class dynamics so that more confident, streetwise children do not use it as an opportunity or even bully shy and nervous youngsters.”

But she is convinced, all in all, that Halloween deserves to be a part of the School’s programme of festivals and celebrations:

“it has the potential to really enrich children’s school experience and general development, and also the overall life of the school.”

Meanwhile, our Research Digest has put together a selection of psychology stories related to Halloween.