Get Psyched Friday: Halloween Tips for First-Timers and Veterans
Friday, October 26, 2012
Another great topic from psychologist Eleanor Mackey on Halloween preparation from choosing an age-appropriate costume, to trick-or-treating safety.
Excitement is building in our house as Halloween approaches. This will be L’s first year to go trick or treating and the first time she’s really wanted much input into her costume selection. As we are navigating this holiday, I have been thinking about a number of issues that may be on other families’ minds as well.
Some parents are creative and crafty and can make costumes for their kids. This is fantastic and it is fun to get kids involved where possible. Make it a fun family activity!
For those parents like me whose best effort is to hand my child a catalogue and let her pick, the main issue was finding something appropriate.
- Consider picking a few costumes that you feel are appropriate and let your child have the final say among those.
- Remind your child of layers that might need to be used for a specific costume (for example, wearing a shirt or pants underneath a costume for added warmth) so you avoid disappointment on the night of Halloween.
- Costumes have recently become awfully adult for some kids. I was surprised at some of the fairy and princess costume options for girls. Make sure to choose something that is age appropriate. This is true for the little kids as well as the elementary and middle school-aged kids.
Kids love to feel independent on Halloween, but it is important to balance safety with this desire. On the other hand, some are a little anxious about walking up to strangers’ doors.
- Bring along friends. There is safety in numbers, but make sure you have enough adults to cover the chaperoning. Sometimes kids can take more risks when their friends are around than when alone. Having friends can also make approaching doors less scary for more anxious children.
- Walk a little ways behind but still keep your children in sight. That way they feel like they are on their own, but you are keeping an eye on them.
- Go out in the earlier hours of the evening.
- Make sure kids know that a parent has to check candy before any of it is eaten.
Trick or treating is so much fun and I don’t want to stop L from experiencing the excitement. However, I don’t want her eating all that candy nor do I want to make it a battle. So, we’ve struck a deal.
- Consider allowing your child to pick a predetermined amount of candy (L and I negotiated 5 pieces). The child can then trade the rest of their candy in for a different prize. This can be a tangible thing like a toy or a privilege like picking the next movie the family watches or going to do a fun activity.
- For those parents of children with food allergies or other dietary restrictions, you could also consider allowing your child to trade the candy they get for safe options you have at home at the end of the night.
What is your favorite Halloween memory?
About the Expert
Eleanor Mackey, PhD, is a child psychologist and works primarily with the Obesity Institute and Children’s Research Institute. Dr. Mackey is also a mother of two young girls. She has been at Children’s National since 2006 and has been a regular contributor to our “Get Psyched Friday” features since 2012.