Why Kids Like Scary Stories
Scary stories are, for children, an intrinsic component of their emotional education, allowing them to identify and control their darker feelings — a good coping mechanism.
"It's the same as with grown-ups," says Susan Engel, psychology lecturer at Williams College and author of the book Real Kids: Creating Meaning in Everyday Life. "It's a chance to experience a really potent fantasy and almost live it, without any of the consequences. Part of the thrill is realizing it's not true."
Emotionally, a scary story is like a carnival ride — the heart beats faster, the eyes widen as adrenaline pumps, and then it's over, leaving an afterglow of well-being. If you worry that your child's attraction to the dark side may result in nightmares, relax. It's impossible to predict or control what a child may have bad dreams about. Besides, nightmares are completely normal.