Taking the scariness out of Halloween

Child psychologist talks about signs your little ones are spooked

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Little kids love the candy that comes along with Halloween, but they may not appreciate the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins we also see this time of year.

Dr. Joe Austerman is a Child Psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children's. He says it's good to get out in front of all things scary at Halloween.

"They shouldn't be exposed to any scary movies; you shouldn't be taking them into these stores that have a lot of gore and ghoulish activities that they're trying to sell because kids internalize this," explained Austerman.

He says even kids as old as 10 sometimes have trouble telling the difference between reality and make-believe.  Austgerman's advice is to tailor Halloween for the under-10 crowd to less-scary activities.

For example, stick to hay rides and spooky daytime trails, rather than haunted houses and horror movies because if your child sees something that spooks them it could change their demeanor.

"If you see your child becoming more apprehensive, hanging around you more, being more afraid to go around strangers, or having nightmares- these are early indications that they're getting scared with what they're being exposed to," explained Austerman.

Austerman says you can help reassure your children they're safe by not reacting yourself.  He says kids oftentimes get scared when someone older reacts to something scary.  If this happens, you can try to calm their fears by using online videos to show them the difference between fantasy and reality.

"Show them how the process gets played out," advised Austerman. "Talk about how movies are made and that they're not real and actually integrating them into this, this is isn't real, this is real, and continue to give them the message that you're safe."

Austerman says to tell your children that if they begin to feel uncomfortable they should tell you. You can easily remove them from a scary situation.

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