Most parents remember the first time they take their kids to the Easter Bunny. My son’s first Easter Bunny was in a grocery store. Personally, he looked kind of scary to me instead of the warm, fuzzy bunny I remember as a child. This bunny was some poor employee in a hot, sweaty suit with another employee taking the pictures. It was a poignant moment for me because my father later passed away that year, but I remember him bragging about his grandson to anyone who would listen while my son sat on the bunny’s lap wondering about the person in the bunny suit.
Last year’s Easter Bunny experience wasn’t as pleasant. We unfortunately waited until the last minute to get his picture taken at the mall, so it was a dreadfully long line with quite a few hysterical children. My son became hysterical once he was placed on the bunny’s lap and wouldn’t be consoled. His final picture shows him being restrained by the bunny and tears pouring down his cheeks. That was just so awful!
We actually learned from that experience and so we made sure that he had opportunities to see the bunny before his pictures this year. Having spoken to a wise Santa at Christmas when he refused to sit on Santa’s lap, he suggested that we take advantage of how long they are in the mall and continue to bring him to get him to where he was comfortable. Our therapist also mentioned this and so we tried it this year. It worked! He was extremely comfortable with the bunny and took great pictures.
Most toddlers have a general fear of people in costumes, but children who have special needs can often retreat or have major reactions to people in costumes. We slowly introduced him to the Easter Bunny the first day he was in the mall and took him back a few times. Some kids require more visits and some kids just aren’t ready. For the kids who aren’t ready, it’s better to do spring pictures than Easter Bunny pictures. Your child will be happier and so will you.
This year we plan to prep him a little better for Santa Claus and hope that because he will be older, he won’t be so terrified. The Santa we spoke with at the mall has been a Santa for almost 20 years and he said that the older kids with special needs love coming to visit him once they get over their fear. As a parent, anything we can do to help them overcome their fears is worth the extra effort and time.