Deanna Detchemendy of Pasadena, CA, walked into her living room one day to find her sons watching Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith with their dad. Beau, 7, seemed to be handling the PG-13 movie fine, but not so 4-year-old Gage.
“I asked him if he wanted to go read a Thomas book, and he said ‘Yes!’ with clear relief,” she says.
Even if you stick to G-rated flicks, your preschooler may still see scary stuff in movie ads if the TV’s been left on at home or at a pal’s house, especially around Halloween. To keep him from getting too spooked:
Embrace six letters: DVD and DVR. If a video gets intense, pop it out. When your child gets scared by a movie you thought would be perfectly innocuous, behind-the-scenes features can prove it was all make-believe. And watching pre-recorded TV shows means you can fast-forward through gory trailers.
Stay alert. Your child may not blurt out “I’m afraid!” so watch her body language for signs of distress, and listen for seemingly random questions about a movie after you’ve viewed it. Respond a reassuringly as possible.
Assess the fear factor. If you’re in a theater and your child seems nervous but doesn’t want to leave, let her stay — it can help to see things work out at the end of the film. If she’s terrified, just go.
Watching your own scary movie? Make sure your child is out or sleeping, or see it at a theater.
Prepare for nighttime freak-outs. Let her leave a nightlight on, carry around a favorite stuffed animal, or do whatever else consoles her until she feels less anxious.