Halloween Safety Tips for Children
Keeping Your Child Safe on Halloween
Halloween is a fun time for children and adults; however, sad to say this time of year also gives opportunities for creeps who like to prey on the vulnerable. What better way to cause mischief when you can disguise your identity and have children coming right up to your door? 😱
It sucks that there are people in this world who wish to hurt the innocent. Because of this, we need to be extra cautious with the safety of our children. I’ll cover some things to keep in mind if you’re letting your child go on their own with friends. There are a few things we can do as parents to help ensure their safety. Additionally, there are things to keep in mind for the younger children to help ensure they can enjoy the Halloween season too.
For very young children or children who tend to be anxious, Halloween, with all the scary costumes and horror shows, can be a frightening time of year. I remember my kiddos being afraid of entering certain stores when they saw Halloween items. Trick or treating was exciting but also scary at times.
As children get older, parents, including myself, wonder if allowing my children to go trick or treating with friends without adult supervision is a good idea. We’re slowly approaching that age and my older kiddo may soon be asking me this question. Geez, these kids grow up so fast!
Anyway, on with it. Here are some tips on making Halloween a safe and fun experience.
Trick or treating
- At what age is it safe for your child to go trick or treating with friends? Please don’t allow your child to trick or treat alone. This just makes them an easy target. Make sure they are with a group of friends (2 or more) and take into consideration the following:
- Your child’s maturity level – rather than just going on chronological age (the years your child has been alive), use their maturity level. Safekids.org recommends that children under the age of 12 are accompanied by adults. That’s a good rule of thumb; however, considering the child’s maturity level is also important. How do you measure maturity level? I think of a few things:
- Are you able to trust that your child will be open and tell you things you need to know? Can you trust that your child will go where he/she says he is going? Do you trust him/her to make the right decisions?
- Decision-making. Has your child demonstrated the ability to make smart choices? If your child continues to make poor choices and often gets in trouble then letting them go with friends without adult supervision may not be the best idea. Think of scenarios that your child could possibly encounter and think about how you believe your child would react.
- Make sure you review rules for trick or treating to ensure their safety. If you have any doubt about their ability to follow these rules, you may want to have an adult to tag along.
- Rules to follow while trick or treating:
- Communicate with the group while moving from house to house.
- Stay on the sidewalk.
- Only cross the streets as a group and in crosswalks.
- Use a cellphone for quick communication.
- Don’t enter homes.
- Don’t give personal information (where they live, their last names, what school they attend, their videogame handles “names”).
- Be aware of who is following them and where everyone is…if with a big group, use the buddy system.
2. Your neighborhood
- Do you live in a safe neighborhood?
- Do you know your neighbors?
- Are there several street lights along the way?
- Are there many children who trick or treat in your area?
- Is there a lot of car traffic? Would your child be able to navigate the traffic safely?
- Plan a route with your child and make sure they will not stray from the approved route.
Trust your gut. Only you know your child and your neighborhood. If you feel uneasy about it, then suggest some alternatives:
- Trunk or treat. A number of families decide to dress up the trunk of their cars in a nearby parking lot and pass out treats from the trunk of their cars. Children visit each car area and trick or treat. It’s a good way to keep track of the children and families often know each other so they feel relatively safe. Adults also get into the spirit when they decorate their cars/trunks and get dressed up themselves.
- Mall/store events. Many malls and stores will have Halloween events and each store will pass out treats to trick or treaters. If it’s an indoor mall, you won’t have to worry about your child and car traffic. Down side is that this is becoming a more popular alternative and it becomes pretty crowded.
- Haunted houses. Some older children prefer to abandon the idea of trick or treating and prefer to go to a haunted house. A lot easier for parents as this is usually in a confined to a home or area.
- Passing out candy. You can have your child dress up and pass out candy. You would need to monitor the younger children in case any scary masks or costumes come along.
- Halloween party. Get together with some friends and have a potluck Halloween party. Ask each family to bring a Halloween dish
- Movie Fest. Have your child pick out some fun Halloween movies, make some popcorn, dress up as your favorite character and stay in. This gives you an awesome opportunity to bond more with your child and spend quality parent-child time.
- Candy!!! 🍫 🍭 🍬 As much as we all love candy, it’s not the best thing for developing bodies. Let your child know that you will be checking their candy after trick or treating. Have them pick out a few to keep and the rest can be given away. Some dentists will take candy and trade them in for cash. Parents have also decided to do something similar. I usually take the candy to work with me for office treats. The candy that the kiddos keep last for quite a while since we don’t let them eat it all at once.
- For toddlers and young children, seeing some masks and costumes 🧛♂️🧟♀️ can be very scary and can turn into your child wanting to be carried for the rest of the evening. Yep, talking from experience on this one 🙄.
- Bright colored. Glow in the dark costumes are great and kids think they’re cool.
- Good fit. You don’t want the costume to be too long or loose-fitting, making it easy to get snagged or tripped on.
- Makeup versus masks. Masks can make it difficult to see so consider using non-toxic makeup. Always test the make-up in a small spot first to make sure your child doesn’t have a reaction.
- Reflective tape. Use reflective tape on their costume or trick or treat bags to help them stand out even more.
- Flame resistant. Try to use costumes that are flame resistant.
- Make sure any accessories are not pointy or won’t hurt others or your child.
- Use flashlights to not only help your child be seen by traffic but also to help them see their way around.
What to do if your child becomes fearful of Halloween items or they are anxious?
When my children were younger, they avoided the Halloween aisle and any automated moving objects. It was pretty anxiety-provoking for them this time of year. Can’t really blame them as suddenly stores had all sorts of weird-looking, scary, moving objects that try to scare/startle you. Here’s what we did to help them:
- Prepare. If we knew the store was going to have a few scary items, we would tell our children in advance that something was going to be near the entrance of the store that would move on its own. They can then close their eyes while walking (or being carried past it).
- Make it silly. We would try to find the humor in things. We’d say things like, “eh you silly spider! Go back to your web!” This helped remove the scary factor a little bit and help empower our child.
- Ask your child. Sometimes children can come up with awesome ideas on their own to help them feel better. One child was okay just having the adult in between them and the scary object. Another child pretended to have a forcefield around themselves.
- Explain the mechanics. One of our kiddos settled down pretty quickly once we did research on robots and explained how the objects moved on their own. We explained that things could not move without power. When the object was unplugged or didn’t have batteries then they would not move. They would also only move in a certain way and remain mostly in one spot. We would them show them and let them observe for a while. This helped reassure him that the object would not be following them around.
- Validate their fears. Let them know that it’s okay to be afraid and that there are times when we feel that way. Help them realize that they can do things to help decrease their fears. Explore ways/activities where they feel brave and what they can do to help increase their courage. Now would also be a good time to let them know that you used to be afraid of things too when you were their age and what you did to help feel safer. ❗️Remember❗️If you make them ashamed of their fear now or dismiss it, they will be less likely in the future to turn to you with their other fears.
Halloween can be a fun time for children but remember that not all children enjoy being scared. Learn your child’s triggers, particularly if they are sensory sensitive. Set them up for success by avoiding situations likely to result in meltdowns. If you think in advance and anticipate problem areas, you are more likely to enjoy the awesome holiday!
Do you have some awesome Halloween tips? Please share in comments below. Mahalo (Thank you)!
*Please note: This is an affiliate link, which means if you purchase through this link, I will earn a small fee without any extra cost to you. It helps to keep me writing these hopefully, helpful posts. Mahalo in advance.
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I’m a mother and a Clinical Psychologist who works with children and their families as well as individuals reaching for their goals. Born and raised in Hawaii, I embrace diversity and help individuals find their strengths.