Recently my 4 year-old grandchildren have been asking for scary stories to hear. I remember having an interest in scary stories as a child too and wondered what the fascination is with them.
It turns out, that hearing scary stories in a safe environment can actually help kids build courage, teach different ways to cope with fears and show them that even if they are afraid they can solve problems.
Fright releases a chemical in our brains that can increase pleasure and provide a surge of energy. This thrill, much like we feel on a roller coaster, is often something people enjoy, and so the scary story can be thrilling.
Hearing a spooky story can provide experiences that they have not yet had, and give them a chance to learn about and understand that experience while safe at home. This is a calmer way to discuss safety, possible actions and more before any such experiences are met full-on.
Feeling afraid in a fictional setting allows kids to explore fear and emotions that go with it, from a safe distance. Children are always working to explore and understand emotions and this is just another way they can safely develop this.
It is important to note that fear is different from terror. Introducing scary stories to kids should be done with age-appropriate stories that children have the ability to process.
A fun way to bring spooky stories into your child's world is to let them create their own!
Spooky Stories and How to Write Them offers lessons and writing prompts to encourage kids to tell their own spooky stories. It offers a study of what things can be scary, why they can be scary and how it feels to be scared.
It's as much fun to scare as to be scared.
Scary stories is one way kids can learn to face their fears. Check out the blog post Face Your Fears for more ideas.