Hey, Seth here.

Halloween only comes around once a year. I remember my favorite place to go trick or treating was at the mall where every store would pass out treats. For an SM child, there’s another layer of depth to these interactions. If they are going out with their friends, their friends may say “trick or treat” for them. This is not the best solution because it’ll get your child through the night, but would you rather just “get through” something half-heartedly or “blast through” the night and overcome a challenge?

Halloween doesn’t have to be complicated. Here is why trick or treating is the perfect opportunity for SM kids. First, you wear a costume, which gives you a layer of anonymity. That takes some of the pressure off. Second, the phrase is only three words long and can be rehearsed beforehand. This isolates the factors in the night and makes you focus on controlling and managing the anxiety rather than trying to think of what to say next. Third, you get a reward every time you say trick or treat, giving you a sense of accomplishment and overall positive reinforcement. Now, if only there was a way to replicate this process and gain massive repetition and reference experience… wait, there is! That is exactly what you do for a whole night.

If you keep practicing that same pattern… knock on the door, say trick or treat, collect candy… not only will it be a lot of fun, it will get easier and your child’sĀ confidence will skyrocket. The hardest part is that first house. If you can make it through that one, the rest will be easy. This is because once you find the combination to “unlock” that SM part of the brainĀ it becomes easier to find that combination again.

If possible, don’t go up to the house with your kid. It may seem cruel and unbearable, but it’s like getting a shot. It hurts for a second, but you bear it because you know it’s going to help your body. If you never get the shot, you’ll stay the way you are.

So if you just want your child to have fun, then you can disregard this whole article. If they are having fun with their friends (even if they aren’t saying much) that’s actually great. Having friends they are comfortable with is actually a huge step forward. But chances are, they aren’t enjoying themselves as much as they could be. And this is my personal advice for those families who want to help their kids gain the mental fortitudes to set up a pattern of success, not just “make it through the day.”

-Seth