You asked

Will scary stories like ‘The Pied Piper' or ‘Hansel and Gretel' really disturb my child?

How your child experiences stories, especially scary ones, depends a lot on the format that they experience the story in. Watching a movie, for instance, takes away their control. That means that while your child’s own imagination decides what he or she experiences when hearing a scary story, like Hansel and Gretel, read, a movie or DVD will create the same experience for any child.

A good idea, if you are concerned that your child may be too scared to watch a particular movie, is to read the story first. If there are no nightmares, you can consider letting your child watch the movie – particularly since the story is now familiar, and shouldn’t be as scary.

It’s also worth noting that keeping your child away from scary stories, like some of those fairy tales, is also not a good idea. That’s because hearing those tales will teach your child valuable lessons in how to deal with potentially challenging and scary situations. You may also notice that your child uses those fairy tales as a basis for play, changing the story, and coming up with their own endings and changes as they go along. That makes them a great source of creativity, and helps your child to learn problem solving.

Also remember that it’s not only stories and movies that can give your child nightmares! Television news reports or newspapers can also be a source of scary stories that may cause your child nightmares. Be ready to answer questions and put your child’s mind at rest, or to change the channel if your child is particularly sensitive.

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