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Know the signs: How to help kids cope with Halloween frights

It’s important for parents to notice if and when their child is triggered.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Halloween is all about haunted houses, scary costumes and a night of fright with trick or treating. But all these things aren’t always good for everyone. 

That’s why it’s important for parents to notice if and when their child is triggered. 

"They will show in their body signs of distress," Aaron Munson, a school counselor, said. "They will start looking for comfort because as kids as humans we want to be regulated and want to be calm.” 

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And experts say much of that calm can come from reassurance. Letting your child know the scary things they’re seeing aren’t real. Instead, you should normalize what Halloween is all about. 

"You can consider finding a book about Halloween that has photographs that explain some of the history behind Halloween or that shows some current costuming that they might be able to see because when they are able to mentally prepare for what’s to come and minimize the surprise their reaction will be smaller," Munson said.

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For older children, their signs of scaredness may be less obvious and instead, they may become more standoffish. 

Yet no matter the age, internal stress can oftentimes cause physical discomfort too. Experts say staying active while trick or treating is one way to relieve that. 

"Let’s maybe skip the next few houses and let’s talk a walk," Munson said. "Something as simple as that can really help minimize those giant reactions and help let go of some of that fear.” 

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Parents are also encouraged to be curious with their kids asking open-ended questions and keeping the conversation comfortable. 

All in hopes that everyone can truly have a happy Halloween.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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