The ground rules of ‘trick or treating’

Trick or treating may seem like a simple activity – find a costume, knock on a few doors, and collect loads of yummy lollies. However, some preparation is necessary for a safe and fun night to be had by all family members. The nature of these ground rules will depend on the age of your children.

Trick or treating with younger children

For younger children, it is a good idea to limit their exposure to the Halloween experience so that it is not overwhelming. Firstly, direct adult supervision is essential. Older kids jumping out from the dark with a ghostly ‘Boo!’ will seem less frightening when they have a trusted adult nearby.

To prevent nightmares and a terrified toddler, reassure them before going out that the scary costumes are all just ‘pretend’. Then keep the trick or treating to early evening, and only for a short period to prevent a Halloween tantrum from your little ghoul.

By making sure your child has eaten a healthy dinner before leaving home, you lessen the chance of overindulgence in sweets during the night. It may also pay to have a magic number of lollies that they are allowed to eat to prevent a sugar belly ache.

Trick or treating with older children

Older children are likely to be more adventurous, and to want to go door-knocking in groups without an adult. Make sure they have a fully charged mobile phone at hand and organise a meeting point and time with you for after they have finished trick or treating.

Warn them not to enter the houses or cars of strangers, and to call on houses of known neighbours only. In the excitement of the night, they may also need a reminder of safety precautions; staying on the pavement rather than the roads, walking rather than running between houses, to using a flashlight for safety near cars.

Best costumes for maximum fun and safety

It is important that their Halloween costumes fit correctly to avoid tripping on hems. Similarly, Halloween costumes with masks can be dangerous if they obscure vision. Face paint is, therefore, a preferable option.

Good costume choices allow free movement and vision, for example, a witch costume or a vampire costume would be ideal for younger kids, while tweens might like a skeleton girls’ costume or a pirate outfit. Admittedly, falls and trips are usually more of an issue for younger children who may have poorer coordination.

If you are buying your children’s Halloween costumes online, make sure you order products in time to make any necessary fitting adjustments for extra comfort before the night. Reflective strips added to the back of their Halloween costumes will also help in keeping them safe and visible in the dark.

If you want to get into the spirit of things too with adult Halloween costumes, there are plenty of family friendly options online or racier numbers for adults-only Halloween events. Why let the kids have all the fun?

Alternatives to trick or treating

If you don’t feel it is safe for your child to go trick or treating, why not have a Halloween party inside the confines of your home? A spooky Halloween lolly hunt with school friends could easily replace door knocking. Another option is to teach children to give as well as receive by putting older kids in charge of distributing lollies to trick or treaters who come to your door.

You could also search for child-friendly Halloween events in your area. Often local libraries and other community organisations run annual daytime events for children to celebrate and learn about this time of year.

By putting these safety boundaries in place next Halloween, you allow your kids to have a memorable and fun night without the possible belly aches, over-stimulation, or imagined bogeyman under the bed.

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