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Monstrous Disappointment: Safely Making the Most of Halloween 2020

By Tammy Donoho, Kentucky Youth Advocates

When I was a child my mother won a stuffed bear from a carnival. She was so excited! I was less so, but I put on my brave face and pretended to be happy that she had won this “prize”. We named it Roar.

Roar had a mixture of bright orange, yellow, and red, messy, scruffy fur! Roar had zigzaggy black felt around it’s shiny, ice blue eyes!  Roar had long, pointy, black, protruding felt claws on it’s four “ready to pounce” paws! Roar was a zillion feet tall and a zillion feet wide! Roar was HUMONGOUS!!! 

Mom proudly put my “new friend” in the corner of my bedroom, and when I climbed into bed at night, that orange monster’s shadow engulfed the entire room. I knew Roar was just waiting for the chance to gobble me up, but I would have to fall asleep first, and I was not about to let that happen!!! 

My mother does not remember Roar the same way I do. She remembers Roar as a cute and cuddly stuffed teddy bear. I’m sure her recollection of Roar is more accurate than mine. 

For a child everything is larger than life. School hallways, the playground, shadows in the night, and even teddy bears may seem as large and scary to a child as a blade of grass is to an ant. Time passes differently as well. The countdown from one year’s holidays to the next can seem like an eternity. 

This time of year many children are waiting with great anticipation and excitement for Halloween. They remember all the fun they had last Halloween and their expectations for this year’s Halloween are high! However, this year Halloween will be celebrated during a pandemic. 

Face It, this year Halloween will be different! There will be a lot of children who won’t understand why things may not turn out the way they want. They might feel angry that participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door is a high risk option their parents or caregivers are unlikely to take. They will probably feel disappointed. That feeling of disappointment may be as scary to them as Roar was to me. 

Those monstrous feelings are sometimes overwhelming for a child and could be difficult to process. Fortunately parents and caregivers can model a healthy perspective.

“So much of life is about looking forward to things, and a change of plans can hit children especially hard.” (Meghan Rabbitt, Parents) But, kids actually benefit from feeling disappointed, especially when parents and caregivers teach them how to bounce back. It’s tempting to try to fix disappointment for children. But there is no way to fix the current reality. What parents and caregivers can do is listen to and acknowledge children’s frustration and disappointment.

While celebrations and special events may not be able to happen in the traditional manner, there are creative ways to make the day special. The whole family can brainstorm unique ways to celebrate!

Halloween Celebration Tips for 2020:


Some Halloween traditions will be difficult and unsafe to observe this year so it may be tempting to overcompensate, sweetening the disenchantment by offering extra candy. The Kentucky Oral Health Coalition wants to remind parents and caregivers that disappointment doesn’t have to be “treated” with sweets. Those sugary “treats” could end up playing “tricks” on children’s teeth. 

Consider These Tooth Friendly Options:


I can’t remember what happened to Roar. I do know that eventually I did fall asleep, Roar had not gobbled me up, and everything was okay. Although folks celebrating Halloween will be making sacrifices and managing disappointment this year, disappointment doesn’t have to gobble up the excitement and enthusiasm of the holiday. It might not be perfect but it will be okay, and okay is just fine!