Here at the Omaha Children's Museum our mission is to engage imaginations and create an excitement about learning.
All of our exhibits and programs are created with this in mind including our Cobweb Castle! This not-so-scary haunted house is designed to help you and your kids learn how to face your fears!
All of us including grown-ups may have anxiety when encountering an unknown situation or when things just seem scary. Here are 3 basic ways to help your child (and you!) deal with fears!
1. Verbalize Fears
Walking into the Cobweb Castle can be a little scary. It's darker in there than the rest of the museum and who know whats what could be around the next corner! Don't worry, it's the "not-so-scary haunted house" for a reason! If your kids do get scared of the dark, get down on their level and ask them why they may be afraid of the dark. Help them to verbalize those fears and what they may be feeling.
"It's dark in there and I'm scared of what may jump out. I wish I could see better."
Then voice ways to counteract that fear.
"Let's start by going in slowly and letting our eyes adjust. It looks like there's more light farther in the room that will help us see better in case there is something around the corner. I'll be here to hold your hand too."
Putting words to feelings gives you and your child a way to own them and then find ways to deal with the fears head on.
One of our special casts of characters, Dr. Bones, reads stories that deal with fear throughout the day in the Neon Nook area of Cobweb Castle. Bibliotheraphy just means the use of books for mental healing. Books help kids see their anxiety in the characters they're reading about. It shows them that someone else is feeling the same way, and it will help your kids verbalize those fears.
Dr. Bones reads I'm Not Afraid of this Haunted House and The Little Old Woman Who Wasn't Scared of Anything, but some other favorites are Wemberly Worried, Where the Wild Things Are, and There's a Nightmare in My Closet.
There are some great books out there for adults who may need to face their fears or tackle anxiety too.
3. Use Your Imagination
This is my favorite one, and what we're so good at at the Museum! The Cobweb Castle is meant for imagination play. Your kids can be the brave hero escaping the giant, hairy spider through the Noodle Forest, or pretend they're rescuing the people trapped in the spider web in the middle of the Cobweb Castle. Dr. Bones will make sure to teach them about spiders when he shows them our baby tarantulas too. Pretending they're the hero helps them to not fear the bad guy (or bad insect) and helps them to apply that same thought process to other areas of their lives. PTSD patients use a similar technique.
I hope to see you at the Cobweb Castle before the exhibit closes on October 30th, 2016. Even if I don’t, I hope these techniques will help your child (and you too!) to face your fears!