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Take time this Halloween to simply enjoy the excitement of children as they dress up and go hunting for treasure! Make a safety plan that fits well for your family, so that you don’t have to worry about what might go wrong.
Here are some tips for having a safe and happy Halloween – and for preparing older kids for more independence:
1. Remember that the purpose of Halloween in modern times is to have fun – not to be terrified. Decide what is going to be best for your specific child. Remember that kids are different and what is fun for one might be terrifying for another. Is your child highly sensitive and likely to be upset by grisly costumes or decorations? Then avoid places where they are likely to see these. Pick houses that look friendly to visit. Go to kid-friendly parties or shopping centers that are celebrating Halloween. Remind older kids that stories and tricks have to be fun for everyone, including the youngest and most sensitive people present.
2. Remember that the biggest hazard kids are likely to face is from cars. Tell kids to remove masks that might block their vision when they cross the street. Put reflective tape onto costumes to make them easier to see. Stay aware rather than distracted when you are driving yourself.
3. Remember that kids are safest when you stay together. Go to the door with younger children, and model how to make safe choices. If you go into a house or let them eat a treat, explain why this is safe.
4. Co-pilot with older kids to help them develop independence skills. As kids get older, let them practice assessing and Checking First by selecting which houses they want to go to and asking you if it is okay. Start to stand further and further away from them as you watch them go to the door on their own. Show them that their safety is still your top priority by putting your technology away and paying attention the whole time.
5. Make sure kids are ready before you let them go on their own. At Halloween or any other time, before you let your kids go out without you, even with friends, make sure they are ready to take charge of their safety. Make a clear plan about where they will go, who will be with them, and what exactly they will be doing. Practice with them how to Check First with you before changing their plan – and what to do if anyone tries to bother them or if they get lost – and how to resist peer pressure in case a friend wants them to break their safety rules.
6. Make a deal to avoid stomach aches. Agree ahead of time about how much candy your child can eat and about allergies. Some parents cut up pieces of candy into tiny tastes and then let their kids choose their 3 favorites. One mom, whose child had many allergies, let her kids trick or treat as much as they wanted and then they traded each piece of candy for a quarter.
7. Stay safe in your imagination. A friend of mind with young children says, “I grew up in the 1980s and 90s, when fears about razors in apples and needles in candy seemed to be at a fever pitch. I know now that those were urban legends, and very few (if any) kids have ever been hurt by the goodies they’ve gotten while trick or treating. I have to be safe in my imagination and focus on the real potential hazards rather then the unfounded anxieties I picked up as a kid!”
Here are some additional resources that can help:
- Halloween Safety – The Kidpower Way in English and Halloween Seguridad in Spanish
- Keeping Halloween FUN for Kids
- What if I get lost? – Kidpower Skills for Getting Help
- The Creepy Clown Scare – What to teach kids about clown safety
- Safety Checklist for Parents to prepare kids to go out on their own – in five languages
- Think and Check First – BEFORE you change your plan
- Kidpower’s Five-Step Plan to Prepare Kids for More Independence
Published: October 31, 2017 | Last Updated: October 30, 2018
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