Dealing with fear can help children become more resilient in critical situations, but arousal isn’t really for everyone. If you decide to allow your children to watch scary movies, here’s how to increase the likelihood that it will be a positive, enjoyable experience.
A recent study indicated that horror movie fans are improving psychologically during the Corona pandemic. “If things are scary in the world, it makes sense for some people to easily overcome something scary in a game, book, movie or TV program,” said study author Coltan Scrivner, Ph.D.
He added, “One of the reasons the use of terror is associated with less psychological distress is that the horror imagination allows its audience to deal with the feelings of fear in a safe environment.”
So, unexpectedly, exposure to some horror scenes helps children build resilience, because it allows them to practice feeling fear and then recover from it.
Fear and sympathy
Watching a scary movie is another opportunity to navigate emotions in a relatively controlled environment, as the child empathizes with fictional characters and frightening situations, learns from them how to make the right decisions to survive, and realizes when the time is ripe for a trick or escape and when confrontation becomes an obligation.
For example, in the “Harry Potter” movie series, the movie contains a terrifying villain and many frightening moments, but it also shows the courage, friendship and love of the film’s heroes.
Experts recommend keeping your child’s fear factor in mind, as some parents first need to take into account their family’s values. If scary movies are something you allow and enjoy watching in your home, then you should evaluate your child’s readiness.
While there is no absolute age at which scary movies are appropriate, psychologists recommend avoiding introducing them to very young children due to the potential for creating long-term anxiety.
Around the age of four, children discover how to manage the fears that naturally develop in childhood.
After that, you should understand your child’s level of awareness and interests. Some children understand that these scenes are not real, while others become more sensitive and take longer to recover from seeing something scary.
Acknowledging your fear
While watching the movie, parents should express their feelings of fear without exaggeration, and there is no need to deny the situation, and it is preferable for children to participate in watching to clarify some matters related to the fear scenes.
Children should be reminded that they always have the option to leave the room or stop the show, and the film should be talked about with them afterward to help them break down any elements that were disturbing or severe.
Finally, you should pay attention to changes in behavior after watching frightening movies, such as nightmares or fear of the dark and so on, which indicates that these films may be very frightening for your little child, and are not suitable for him at the present time.