INDIANAPOLIS- Fall is a favorite time of the year for many, but for some especially at an early age, Halloween can be a time of year that provokes anxiety.
Especially with all the spooky displays and freaky costumes.
Aaron Munson, School Counselor at IPS Butler University Laboratory School 55 spoke to the FOX59 Morning News Team Friday sharing tips on how to prepare for the fun but frightening season.
Here’s a few tips to get you started:
- Pay attention to your child when you see Halloween decorations. If your child sees the decorations too, it is likely that their first response will be to look at you. Children do this automatically because when they are afraid, their autonomic nervous system — the heart beating faster, increased blood pressure, short/quick breaths — seeks to find calm. Children do this through seeking reassurance from caregivers that make them feel safe.
- Question instead of assume. Rather than assuming that they feel scared or afraid, ask them an open-ended question. “Jose, are you okay? What are you thinking or feeling right now?” Their answer will give you the information you need to make a supportive decision.
- Assure them. Remind them that they are safe. They are not in any real danger. Their body is preparing to fight/flight/freeze because of a perceived threat that isn’t actually going to hurt them. Tell them that they are loved, they are safe, and they are okay.
- If you can name it, you can tame it! Helping the child name what’s happening or what they are feeling means you can make a plan of action. A caregiver’s natural inclination to keep their child safe is a great tool to use here because you get to do exactly that — make a plan to help them feel safe!
- Encourage some action. Unprocessed emotions, especially when they are tied with spikes of cortisol chemicals, can get stuck in the body. If this occurs too often for too long, it can lead to stomach pain, irritable bowels, nausea, etc. Doing something physical (like taking a walk, playing a game, drawing, dancing, etc.) can help your child put their focus on something positive and productive that can make them feel calm. When this occurs, the body releases endorphins and dopamine. These hormones can counteract cortisol and make your child feel much better.