Attention all parents: It’s time, once again, to pull out the pumpkin carving set and creepy crawler decorations in preparation for Halloween. I’m sure your house is already buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Children are eager to help plan out which costume to wear – from sparkling princess to goth or ghost, even wee ones are thrilled to play dress up and then parade up and down the streets, filling their bags with loot. This year, Halloween falls on a Saturday which means that little ghosts and goblins, princesses and pirates may be allowed to stay outside, weather permitting, a little later than on a school night. Bonus!
As your children mark off the days until Halloween, here are some tips to consider:
1. Always accompany young children on their trip around the neighbourhood. Those who have entered the double digits (ten and up) may not want you coming up to the door of each house, so you may linger back or walk behind your child and his or her group of friends, if they prefer.
2. Remind your teen about manners and about not taking advantage of being ‘tricky’ on Halloween night. Talk about the difference between a trick and vandalism. Remind them about showing respect – saying please and thank you, not pushing ahead of younger children and not ringing on doorbells late at night or when lights are turned out on the front porch.
3. Stay outside. Remind children that they should remain outside the house when accepting a treat. Even if they are invited inside to experience an amazing haunted adventure, they should resist the temptation to enter.
4. Choose a light and comfortable receptacle to carry candy. A large pillow case (decorated for Halloween even) is a great way for your child to lug all his loot. And if it gets too heavy, he can even throw it over his shoulder.
5. Stay safe. Be seen. Along with glow sticks or flashlights, encourage your children to wear some reflective or light coloured clothing so that they are easily visible to traffic. You can also add reflective tape to your child’s outfit. Also make sure that their outfits are made of material that is flame resistant and not too long so as to avoid tripping over.
6. A word about masks. Try to avoid those costumes that require masks that cover the entire face or eyes. Children need their eyes to guide them down dimly lit streets and small eye holes in masks are often not good enough to allow them to see their way safely as they walk. Make-up is a great alternative.
7. Sort through the goodies with an adult. When you and your children finally arrive back home, ask them to dump everything on the floor and sort through it. We usually make several piles: one of items they don’t want to keep (the smallest pile), one specifically for candies, another for bags of chips or popcorn and the last for miscellaneous items such as pencils. We also make sure that every item is in a sealed wrapper. Candies that are loose automatically get thrown away. Candies that cannot be identified also get thrown away.
8. Swapping candies. If you have more than one child, your children may choose to swap items with one another. One child may love chocolate but not chips, for example, and therefore may be happy to make an exchange. Monitor this to make sure that younger children are not being taken advantage of!
9. Forbidden fruit. I have found that if you whisk away the candies too soon or become too strict about how and when the children can have theirs, they crave them more – just like forbidden fruit. I have found that by just leaving the bowl of candy on the kitchen table post Halloween, the children often become immune to seeing it sit there and after a few days, lose interest and walk by it without reaching into it.
10. Respect differences. Some families choose not to take part in Halloween festivities because they believe that it is a Pagan holiday. Although it may be difficult to convince your children why anyone would not want to dress up and get goodies, encourage sensitivity and tolerance towards others’ beliefs. You may even want to become familiar with the story behind Halloween and how it came to be and then share some of this with your children.
Be safe and enjoy!