Here is an interesting op-ed piece from today's Hartford Courant. Written by Penn State professor Cindy Dell Clark, the essay urges adults to go easy on the scare tactics with young children:
Deathly displays do frighten children at ages 6 or 7. Kindergartners on haunted rides, when fear builds, are apt to cry and hide in their mother's lap. In my research, I showed innocuous pictures of Halloween icons to young interviewees. I was surprised to find that many first-graders were quick to take the depicted witch or haunted house and hide it under the furniture, safely out of view. Children generally thought the icons I showed them, and the entities they pictured, were quite scare-inducing, although these included neutral-looking black cats or bats or lighted jack-o'-lanterns.
From other research conducted by a psychologist, preschoolers are known to be frightened of monsters, even when they are aware that the monsters are not real. Adults need to be wary about setting out to frighten very young Halloween celebrants.