When should I allow my child to read scary books?
Scary books can be the cause of nightmares in a young child and also sleepless nights for parents. Find out when is a good time to allow your kids to start reading scary books and why it might be good for them.
Every parent has an innate feeling to protect their offspring, even if the perceived danger lies in scary books for kids. The question of when a parent should allow their child to read scary stories has been raging in parenting forums and the opinions are as diverse as they come.
What’s in a scare?
First of all, we need to decide what exactly is a ‘scary story’? Common consensus seems to point towards anything that involves blood, gore and violence. This would include graphic descriptions of murder, crime scene or even animal attacks. Some parents would also consider ghosts and other supernatural creatures as part of this ‘scary’ group. These groups include but are not limited to witches, ghouls, vampires and monsters.
Seeing that many children’s books weave elements of fantasy and myth into their stories, it is safe to assume that many of those can also be classified as scary books for kids.
What fears do your children have?
The next step in deciding is to confront their fears and understand if the books will just induce those fears. If your child has a fear of the dark, perhaps it is not the best idea to let them read Mr. Midnight or R.L Stine’s Goosebumps just before they go to bed.
A good scare
However, we should not discount scary stories altogether, especially since your child has more control over his imagination when he is reading the book as opposed to watching the movie version unfold before his eyes.
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Scary stories also have the added benefit of actually helping children through their psychological development. This is usually because a number of scary stories have a child or young adult as the protagonist and these children turn out to be heroes and heroines who defeat the monsters. By reading about how these kids just like themselves overcome frightening challenges, children subconsciously learn strategies for dealing with issues like anger, separation from their parents, and living up to expectations.
Age is but a number
Ultimately, what is most important is to know how mature your child is to handle the material in these scary books. However, if you feel that they are not mature enough, yet they are adamant about reading it, parents should consider reading the book together with children and being there to answer any questions, doubts or fears that they might have because of the book. Remember to point out the positives in the book as well as the embedded lessons to be learnt.
Do you think scary books for kids should be allowed at a young age? We’d love to hear from you!
For more on scary books for kids, watch this video: