Dealing with 'clowning'? Here are a few tips to ease your kids' fears

From Alabama to Akron, clown craziness is sweeping the country. 

Accounts of alleged sightings have been continually popping up across social media over the past few weeks.

While the vast majority are just hoaxes, the frenzy is snowballing, according to this piece from Time

The incidents continue to stack up. Just this week, hundreds of students in Pennsylvania State University swarmed surrounding campus streets to carry out a mass clown hunt. A Connecticut school district said it is banning clown costumes and any “symbols of terror.” And an armed clown hoax temporarily put a Massachusetts college on lockdown.

For parents who may now be dealing with anxious, clown-fearing children at home, the frenzy may be no laughing matter.

We reached out to University Hospitals’ Carolyn Landis

The pediatric psychologist offered up a few simple tips parents can try to help ease kids’ nerves. 

  • Take a closer look at what your kids are watching. This is important every day, but it’s especially vital when scary images are at a surplus during the Halloween season.

Landis said it can be tough for kids to shake the thought of a clown if it’s continually on their mind.

“It’s difficult to stop thinking about something that’s so easily visualized,” she said, adding that kids already prone to anxiety could be impacted by for six months or even more. 

  • Be aware… “Reassure the child that the parent, the police, and administrators are all working together to keep them safe,” she said.

She recommends reaching out to a pediatrician or therapist if your child’s having an especially hard time.

  • ...but don’t feed into the hysteria.  “I wouldn’t necessarily bring it up on my own if my child is functioning well,” Landis explained.

Telltale signs that a child may be struggling with fear or another trigger include not wanting to be separated from parents or skipping out of typically fun activities.

  • Brush up on your acting skills.  No matter what, even the calmest kids can get spooked sometimes. She recommends setting up a role play scenario with your family.

Begin the exercise by again reiterating your kid won’t be attacked, but then transition into asking questions like ‘what would you do if you saw a clown’ or ‘what would you say to a clown.’

Acting out potential scenarios, even if they’re far fetched, can can help kids feel safer, she said.


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