If we think about it, Halloween goes against everything we teach our kids. Do not talk to strangers. Do not take candy from strangers. Do not walk in the street. Do not eat too much sugar. Without realizing it, we give everyone a pass on Halloween, and that includes our kids and anyone who could pose a danger to our children on an average day.
We don’t expect someone to go against everything Halloween is about and turn it into an opportunity for foul play. Unfortunately, it does happen. This is why it is imperative to educate and arm ourselves and our kids with the knowledge to stay safe to ensure maximum fun this Halloween.
No matter how old our children are, when it comes to Halloween, it is vital to be clear about safety and expectations. Whether we are accompanying our little ghosts down the block or dropping our large scary clowns off at a friend’s house (because they don’t want to be seen with their parents on Halloween), following these steps is critical.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
It may be difficult to get your child’s attention before the sugar rush begins, but it is important to take a few minutes to go over safety concerns and rules. This is a good time to share your expectations with your child at two, 18, and everything in between. It is not about scaring your children to the point where they do not want to leave the house, but equipping them with the tools they need. Knowledge is power and we do not want our kids to be powerless against the world. It is also the time to express expectations of spouses and family members, to ensure everyone is on the same page of the Halloween book.
THIS IS ABOUT THEM, NOT YOU
Trick-or-treating as a group with your friends and their kids enhances the experience and is a wonderful way to get friends together to celebrate Halloween. However, this can mean you are not giving 100% of your attention to your kids, as you are involved in your own conversations. If alcohol is involved, you may not be able to think as rationally as you normally would sober. We also have to remember our kids are watching our every move and will emulate our behaviors.
A STREET IS STILL A STREET ON HALLOWEEN
Somehow, the rules you have instilled and repeated a million times will disappear on Halloween. The streets are filled with families walking around, often not unaware that there are still cars driving by. You should never assume a driver will see your child running across the dark streets or drive slower than normal because it is Halloween. A friendly reminder to your kids about looking both ways and street safety is never a bad idea. Ever.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Everyone on Halloween needs to be cognizant of what is happening around them, just as we should on an average day. If you see an adult on a playground without a child, you might get suspicious, correct? Same concept for Halloween. If you see an adult roaming around without a child and something does not feel right, it most likely is not right. Our concern is not limited to adults. Older children, unaccompanied by adults, may find bullying younger ones a fun activity on Halloween. If you have older kids who will be out and about on their own, ensure this is something you will not tolerate, along with vandalism.
STRANGER DANGER IS ALIVE AND WELL ON HALLOWEEN
The goal is not to scare your children (albeit an appropriate emotion on Halloween), but to help them make smart choices. A basic rule on Halloween is to never enter a person’s home, no matter what. This can happen in a blink of an eye, even as you are standing by the curb checking your phone. A group of rowdy teens promised alcohol, or two innocent six-year-olds told there is a litter of new puppies, can easily be lured into the home of a dangerous person. While everyone is friendly, smiling and opening up their doors on Halloween, there are boundaries that need to be followed. If an adult does not follow these boundaries, it can put our children in danger, can create peer pressure issues and lead to bad situations. It is our responsibility to be ahead of it all and focus on what is happening on the other side as our kids are focused on the candy.
CHECK YOUR CANDY
This goes without saying, but we still have to check our candy for the same crazy things we heard about 20 years ago, like razor blades and needles. Seems obvious, however, if something is unwrapped or even slightly torn, throw it out. It is not just our communities we have to be conscious of. Older kids and adults walking around could hand your child candy that has been tainted. It could even happen at the store unknowingly while purchasing contaminated treats. We would like to think we have control of what gets eaten, saved, and thrown away, but many kids start snacking as they are trick-or-treating, sneaking the sugary treats when mom and dad are not looking. Older kids, out and about on their own, waste no time digging into their pillow cases. Again, it all comes down to educating ourselves and our children!
It would be so nice to live in a world where kids can be kids and holidays like Halloween can be about costumes, free candy, and memories. Unfortunately, this is not reality and not the world we live in. There will always be bad apples in the bunch. Speaking of, never accept apples or anything that is unwrapped. Yes, it is a healthy option, but not a desired Halloween treat for many reasons. Remember to prep your kids, even if they say you are annoying, and be smart with your choices as a role model. Last but not least, tell your kids to have fun and try not to eat too much of your child’s candy stash.