Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of the year. I love the freedom to dress up and act silly, walk around the streets after dark, and gobble up make favorite candy–peanut butter cups.
Even well into adulthood, I love this excuse to act like a kid for an evening.
For parents of young children, Halloween safety means adding reflective tape to costumes, reviewing the rules about not going into a stranger’s house, and checking candy for signs of tampering.
As they enter middle school and start testing boundaries, we need to talk about appropriate costumes, tricks and pranks that are not so funny, and the challenges awaiting them at parties.
With darkened lights, glowing decorations, crazy costumes, and a license to eat as much candy as your stomach can handle, Halloween can easily feel like anything goes. While inhibitions are down, we need to make sure there are some rules that are always in place.
Pre-teens and tweens should know that:
- Places that are off-limits the rest of the year are still not safe on Halloween.
- Private property must still be respected during Halloween–laws are still in effect. While some pranks me seem harmless, they can cause damage and result in fines or other consequences.
- They should only drink beverages poured by people they can trust. And they need to know where you stand on underage drinking–even “just a sip.”
- You will always come get them, even if poor choices put them in scary situations. Have a signal or a code they can text or say that means you will come get them right away–and save the questions for next morning.
- In case of an emergency, it is always the right choice to call 911. Young people have died or suffered severe and permanent injuries because their friends hesitated to call for help. Let your child know you will support the decision to call and will be proud of them. It will be easier to make the right choice if they know what your reaction will be. Some states even have Good Samaritan laws to protect people who make those life-saving calls.
Adults need to be careful, too:
- Our children are always watching our behavior for clues and cues as to how adults act. If we treat Halloween as a time to over-indulge and break the rules, they will, too. Consider the message sent by “Liquor Treat” style Halloween parties or taking along liquor while trick or treating with the kids.
- Be extra cautious while driving and remember there will be more children out on the street.
- Keep social hosting laws in mind when planning parties for your teens. Although it may be tempting to think they are safer drinking at your house, you run a big risk allowing alcohol at a party with underage guests.
By modeling responsible behavior and keeping risks in mind while planning, everyone can enjoy a wild but safe Halloween!