Then it got me thinking about all the issues friends can bring up around Halloween when you are an expat child (or any child).
“Should we dress alike?”
“Should we let ‘so and so’ go trick or treating with us?”
“Do we have to share with them?”
What should be a time of family fun and fun with friends can often end in an evening full of tears. There are of course some expected heighten emotions when you add too much sugar and a later bedtime, but parents can do a few simple things to help the evening go smoothly.
1. Remember if you are celebrating this holiday abroad, the expectations might not be what the parents or the kids want. The local candy might just be ‘awful’ so remind your child that there will be lots of local kids that would love to have the candy so focus on the ‘giving’ instead of the ‘taking.’
2. Remember that it can be an evening where fitting in is more important than the outfit. Let your child pick what they want to be or dress like and forget the parent’s wants on this when you are abroad. Nothing ruins a holiday more than an unhappy child.
3. Remember if your child decides to exclude ‘friends’ to remind them what the core values of your family are with words. “Our family values politeness.” Or “Our family values courtesy.” Or “Our family values civility.” Try not to say, “You should invite her.”
Halloween is for friends! Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Let your kids celebrate. Love your child unconditionally, but hold him/her accountable for decisions or behavior that go against the family’s values.
In “Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child, I wrote short stories that take place in a variety of locations. The emotions are described in these short stories. Then it covers why the location is so unique. Some of these stories were from Jackie’s experiences around the world, and some were from Grant’s. To make it more predictable for young children to read or understand, I have made each story be about a boy called Jack.
If you are reading to a two or three-year-old, sit with them in your lap or lie down next to each other. Let them hear your voice acting out Jack’s words and his mother’s words with two different voices. Let him see the pattern in the stories.
If you are reading to a four or five-year-old, you can ask them if they know what is coming next. You can take turns being Jack and repeat his words after they are read. You can also do as suggested above.
If you are reading with an older child, ask him what he would like to do. How would he like the story to be read?
See if your child can take some of their experiences and place them into their own emotion stories. Most children can relate to other kids. Ask your child, “When did you feel like Jack?”
Joy During Halloween – Jack’s Story
Oxford English Dictionary
- A vivid emotion of pleasure arising from a sense of well- being or satisfaction; the feeling or state of being highly pleased or delighted; exultation of spirit; gladness, delight.
- The expression of glad feeling; outward rejoicing; mirth; jubilant festivity.
- A source or object of joy; that which causes joy, or in which delight is taken; a delight.
For a young child: Your face is really, really happy. You feel wonderful. You might even want to dance. This is the joy.
Neighborhoods around the world where families are involved in Halloween. You can experience joy while going through your trick or treat bag after a late night of running around the neighborhood. As you pile the candy into two very different piles; Candy that is well worth keeping and Candy that needs to be given away as soon as possible. As you take your fifth piece of candy and slowly unwrap it, so the wrapping does not make any noise, you smile with joy. It has been a fun evening for you and your friends. You wish it could have lasted longer.
Jack’s Story – Joy
The evening ritual begins. The moon starts to shine and Jack rubs his eyes. As Jack and his mom start the short walk across the neighborhood to their home, she asks him, “What was your evening like?”
“Let me think about it,” Jack grabs her hand, looks up with a smile and continues the walk home.
“How was your evening?” she leans over and asks again as he snuggles into his bed.
“Mommy, I had a good night at “trick and treating.” What should I dream about tonight?”
“Dream about what you experienced this evening,” she softly says as she leans closer and smoothes his pillow.
“Mommy, I am thinking about all the joy I felt tonight. I am going to dream about the parade we all took part in. I am going to remember the smiles on everyone’s faces as they walked around the neighborhood. I will remember their joy when they realized that they received some Halloween candy that they love. I am going to remember my joy when I saw you dressed up in your pumpkin hat. I am going to remember how much joy I had when I got to lug my huge trick or treat bag back home. Mommy, that is what I am going to dream about.”
“Do you know how much I love you?”
“You love me a lot.”
“More than you will ever know,” she says as she smiles and kisses him good night.
He just smiles and snuggles down in bed pulling the covers up towards his chin.