Most chil­dren love car­toons and movies about scary crea­tures: witch­es, ghosts, were­wolves, but even more they love to share scary sto­ries with each oth­er. Every par­ent remem­bers the days of his child­hood, when chil­dren’s folk­lore about a cof­fin on wheels, a red glove, a black-black city was pop­u­lar. Why are hor­ror sto­ries so pop­u­lar among preschool­ers and school­child­ren?

Where do scare­crows come from

All sto­ries about a cof­fin on wheels and a black sheet were born from ancient Russ­ian fairy tales and leg­ends about Baba Yaga, Koshchei the Immor­tal and the Ser­pent Gorynych. In addi­tion to these char­ac­ters, in ancient tales there were often sep­a­rate cycles of sto­ries about the risen dead, dev­ils, sor­cer­ers and oth­er demon­ic forces.

Grad­u­al­ly, the sto­ries were mod­ern­ized. In the days of the USSR, hor­ror sto­ries for chil­dren were told in pio­neer camps, in dachas, in sana­to­ri­ums. The sto­ries absorbed the spir­it of the era, so they con­stant­ly men­tioned the real­i­ties of their time: police­men instead of sol­diers, chil­dren’s camps instead of church­es or a ter­ri­ble for­est, cars instead of carts, robots, radios. Even the lat­est gad­gets are men­tioned in mod­ern hor­ror sto­ries: play­ers, smart­phones, TVs, lap­tops.

Why are chil­dren attract­ed to scary sto­ries?

Psy­chol­o­gists say that hor­ror sto­ries are a spe­cial kind of oral folk­lore, thanks to which the child comes face to face with real prob­lems and fears. No won­der ordi­nary chil­dren become the main char­ac­ters of hor­ror sto­ries.

The plots of hor­ror sto­ries are easy to remem­ber, which helps them to quick­ly pass from one child to anoth­er. The plot is based on a sim­ple struc­ture: the cre­ation of a ban or warn­ing — vio­la­tion of the ban — pun­ish­ment. Scary sto­ries are an orig­i­nal way to show chil­dren that they need to obey in order to avoid prob­lems.

Why are chil­dren attract­ed to such sto­ries?

Inter­est in hor­ror sto­ries is asso­ci­at­ed with:

  • bio­chem­i­cal process­es in the child’s body, when dopamine, nor­ep­i­neph­rine and endor­phins are pro­duced — the hor­mones of “courage”, plea­sure and endurance;
  • the desire to over­come their fears;
  • desire to increase self-esteem (as a sto­ry­teller or as a dare­dev­il who did not show fear of a ter­ri­ble sto­ry);
  • the desire for friend­ly uni­ty, pro­voked by a com­mon fear;
  • desire for emo­tion­al release.

What are the ben­e­fits of scary sto­ries?

Despite the fears of par­ents, experts believe that hor­ror sto­ries do not car­ry any dan­ger. The pop­u­lar­i­ty of this kind of folk­lore is due to the fact that creepy sto­ries have a pos­i­tive effect on the for­ma­tion and devel­op­ment of the child’s psy­che.

There are many use­ful fea­tures of hor­ror sto­ries:

  • Scary sto­ries teach chil­dren to obey their par­ents and not vio­late seri­ous pro­hi­bi­tions (an anal­o­gy with the rules of the type do not turn on the radio, do not buy a black piano, do not wear red gloves). In hor­ror sto­ries, if a warn­ing is not fol­lowed, pun­ish­ment always fol­lows.
  • Creepy sto­ries allow chil­dren to express their own imag­i­na­tion. The child devel­ops cre­ative­ly. He can invent hor­ror sto­ries on his own or tell them emo­tion­al­ly, imi­tat­ing the actors.
  • With the help of scary sto­ries, the child learns to over­come, work out his fears, includ­ing the fear of death, lone­li­ness, dark­ness.
  • A good sto­ry­teller of hor­ror sto­ries is respect­ed in the chil­dren’s team and this gives many chil­dren the oppor­tu­ni­ty to prove them­selves.

How to intro­duce chil­dren to hor­ror sto­ries

The child encoun­ters the first scary sto­ries at the age of 4–5 years. How­ev­er, every­one per­ceives them dif­fer­ent­ly. Some­one lis­tens with inter­est, and some­one is afraid, notice­ably wor­ried, clos­es his ears.

There are sev­er­al impor­tant rules for how to cor­rect­ly intro­duce chil­dren to hor­ror sto­ries and how to min­i­mize the con­se­quences if the child is very impres­sion­able.


  • assess the emo­tion­al state of the child, inter­rupt­ing the sto­ry at par­tic­u­lar­ly trau­mat­ic places;
  • help to cope with fear: draw char­ac­ters, dis­cuss char­ac­ters and their actions, com­pose your own hor­ror sto­ries, come up with alter­na­tive hap­py end­ings;
  • allow the child to choose the sto­ries he wants to hear, for exam­ple, with the help of E. Uspen­sky’s book “Red Hand, Black Sheet, Green Fin­gers” or G. Nau­menko “Long Fin­ger”;
  • encour­age and sup­port the child if he is very afraid.

Scary sto­ries are a great way to take a break from bor­ing days at kinder­garten or school. The hor­ror sto­ry genre is pop­u­lar with chil­dren of all ages. The task of moms and dads is to teach chil­dren to over­come fears, and ter­ri­ble sto­ries will help to do this. The main thing is to pro­vide chil­dren with sup­port and explain what is the dif­fer­ence between real­i­ty and a fic­tion­al sit­u­a­tion.


By Yara