Oh my ever-loving-cookie-dough! What is with the clown pranking everywhere? I know that kids all over the place from all different backgrounds are scared. I get it that it’s not just kids with past trauma who are being affected by this. I suppose we don’t have the market cornered on kids with lots of anxiety. But, Come ON!!!!
Our children have a serious aversion to masks of any kind. This isn’t at all surprising, considering that they have a specific trauma history related to masks. They can remember being small, in their biological home, and being terrorized by adults in masks.
So all of the media hoopla over the clown hoaxes is not helping. The kids at school are all talking about the creepy clowns. Every child knows someone, who knows someone else, who has a cousin, who saw a clown in their backyard. The difference for these kids is simple. They don’t end up worried that it might be their biological parents coming to terrorize them.
Mary was able to have an open conversation with me about how she feels “very triggered” when other kids start talking about the clowns. She told me that she logically knows there isn’t a band of child-killers dressed as clowns running around. Instead, it’s been making her think about her biological family and some of the scary things they did.
The school sent out a letter stating that they would be telling kids that the school was safe from clowns. They stated that they would not be allowing children to spread rumors or continue talking about the clowns. The letter advised parents not to expose children to the news on TV, because it was featuring stories about the clowns.
Really? That’s the plan?? When we find something in the world that makes our children uncomfortable we shelter them completely? How on earth is the school going to police every conversation children have? How will they stop kids from “spreading rumors” when little kids actually believe that these are concrete events.
We took the opposite approach in our house. We showed our children the news. Why try to get your children to believe your word over that of their friends? Why not show them that the news is reporting these events to be hoaxes spurred on by social media? The news mentioned teenagers who thought it was funny to put on masks and stand around. Just a hint, teens who want their pictures on twitter are not that scary.
We discussed all of this with our children. We listened to Carl’s opinion about why teenagers might do this and not realize how their actions were hurting others. We listened to Mary wonder aloud why adults would think it was funny to put masks on and drive. Most of all we listened. We acknowledged that their fears run deep. We accepted their emotions even as we let them come to the logical conclusion that this wasn’t real.
We don’t hide our kids from triggers. We help them to cope with triggers. After our talk Mary said to me, “I know it isn’t real. Can I still hold your hand on Halloween, Mom?” Of course she can. That right there is a darn good coping strategy. A strategy our daughter came up with. So take that, you stupid clowns!
**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.