Parenting Advice: Saving Your Children from The Four Real Monsters of Halloween

Parents, prepare to become monster slayers! While Halloween is an awesome celebration for most, there are some who are already sharpening their parenting tools in preparation for the four big monsters who lurk at October’s end. Read our tips on how to beat those big-baddies.

Halloween is just around the corner. While that might sound like great news for most children and parents, there are some who are starting to feel some uneasy jitters. Some younger kids may get scared of the goblins and ghosts. The older ones may be worried about adults who would not give enough candy. And of course, we, the parents, know the real monsters that come out of Halloween. So how can we kindly, gently and thoughtfully slay these monsters? 

This is our guide to handling these different types of monsters, the ones who really do roam our Halloween nightmares.

The I-don’t-want-to-wear-my-costume screaming ghoul

THE WHAT: Who doesn’t love wearing a costume? Who wouldn’t want to become a princess or a superhero for one special day? Apparently, lots of kids. The scene of a parent holding an amazing costume in front of a resisting, reluctant child is all too common, we’re afraid.

THE WHY: Some children find the costume uncomfortable, and that goes double for those high-end costumes which may be heavy and bulky. Those costumes may also interfere with sensory modes, such as sight and hearing, and may restrict the child’s movement. That’s not fun.
Sometimes, it may not be about mobility at all. Some kids may feel ridiculous in their costume. They may be embarrassed to wear a strange and unusual outfit, or may want to avoid being the center of attention.

PARENTING ADVICE: Preparing children for Halloween before the Holiday might be a good idea.

  1. Have your child choose her own costume, and make sure it is a comfortable one.
  2. A cute idea is to create a family costume, so your child will not feel singled out and weird. Think how proud she may be, strolling the streets, when both she and mommy are dressed as matching Ninja Turtles.
  3. Once the costume arrives, leave it in her room, and let her play with it. A few afternoons of running around the house as a witch or a princess will not ruin the costume, and will get her ready to show off on the actual day.
  4. If your child refuses to even consider purchasing a costume prior to Halloween, have a cheap one prepared around the house, just in case he changes his mind on the day itself. Cheap costumes may include the child’s pajamas (have you noticed how many of these are skeleton-themed?), his sports uniforms (be a soccer-player for Halloween), or the easy Cowboy costume (jeans, plaid shirt, bandana around the neck, a painted mustache and a toy gun).
  5. And, finally, if you encounter too much resistance, avoid the fight. Your girl will not be the only one in the schoolyard without a costume, and your boy will certainly get his share of candy while trick-or-treating, simply by knocking on the doors. If they will have fun participating in the Halloween traditions without a costume – let them have it.

The I’m-too-scared-to-go-out-from-under-my-bridge troll

THE WHAT: It’s five o’clock on Halloween night, your young superhero is ready in his costume and cap, you are all excited to go trick-or-treating… but he will not go out the door. The monsters are out there, and whether they are real or just really big kids, they are just too scary.

THE WHY: Not all adults like horror movies, and not all children like to be scared. Neurological research has taught us that some kids are just wired to react more to fearful stimuli. At a younger age, kids may not fully understand the concepts of masks and costumes, and may find those gory zombies too much. Others may be nervous of the jump scares that may occur on some houses. 

PARENTING ADVICE: Once again, preparation is the key.

  1. Make sure your home’s decorations and costumes are G-rated. You might enjoy buckets of blood and a skeleton hanging on the front door, but for this year – hang on a cute witch or a smiley ghost instead.
  2. Talk with your boy about Halloween ahead of time. Discuss how some kids, and even adults, like to pretend to be monsters, even if they are really nice people.
  3. If you wish to go trick-or-treating, plan your route in advance. Scope the neighborhood and identify the houses that did not invest in gory or over-the-top Halloween decorations.
  4. See if any of your child’s friends would go trick-or-treating together. Children, like all of us, will feel safer when surrounded by people they trust.
  5. If none of these ideas work, don’t stress it out. Instead of making it into a big deal, stay home this year and have some nice Halloween celebrations of your own. You can carve a pumpkin, bob apples and tell stories about cute, friendly dragons. Halloween is not a competition, and one does not have to make it stressful.

The can’t-wait-to-eat-all-my-candy-at-once goblin

THE WHAT: Children love candy. That’s a fact. On Halloween, they’ll have a lot of candy. That’s a fact, too.  Put these two together, and you’ll have a child pumped up on oodles of sugar. You, as a parent, are concerned about high calories, dentist visits or sugar highs, but your child insists that the candy is theirs.

THE WHY: Children are biologically primed to prefer sweet to all other tastes. Unlike adults, children’s prefrontal lobes, which is the area of the brain which allow us to moderate our drives, is still underdeveloped, and thus they will find it difficult to stop themselves.

PARENTING ADVICE: There are a couple of ways to help children resist the urge to gorge too much of the Halloween sweetness:

  1. Plan ahead, and discuss with your child how much candy should be eaten. On Halloween night you may allow yourself to be lenient. Afterwards, reach an agreement, keep your part, and allow your son or daughter to keep theirs.
  2. On the day of trick-or-treating, do not let your kids go out hungry. Eating a full meal before going out will naturally lead to some moderation.
  3. When you return home, store the candy at a shared area, rather than the children’s room.
  4. Figure out what to do with the extra candy you have available. In some communities, local businesses (especially dentists offices) will have a candy-buy-back, and offer money for candy by the pound. (You can find such businesses at http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com).
    You may also wish to donate your candy. Operation Gratitude will allow your child to ship the extra candy to troops stationed overseas: https://www.operationgratitude.com/express-your-thanks/halloween-candy/

The trick-or-treating-danger-seeking ogre

THE WHAT: OK… that’s not actually your child doing anything, but just a fact of life. Having your children go out on their own in cumbersome clothes, approach strangers’ homes and ask for food, may not be the safest way to spend an evening. However, these advice will allow you to keep them safe and happy.

PARENTING ADVICE: There are a couple of ways to help keep your kids safe and happy while trick-or-treating.

Costumes:

  1. Make sure their costumes do not block their peripheral vision. Masks can be fun, but your kids should still be able to cross the street.
  2. Make sure the costumes do not block mobility. Flowing gowns and ribbons that children may step on while running should be tied to avoid the danger of tripping.
  3. Halloween is all about darkness, but cars should be able to see your child when she crosses the street. Try to avoid costumes that are entirely dark. Or, if that’s not possible, tape some light-reflecting tape on the arms and legs.

    Trick-or-Treating:
  4. There is safety in groups. If your child is young, go with him. If he is older, make sure he goes out with a group of friends.
  5. Do not allow your child to eat any food that you have not inspected first. Make sure candy does not appear tempered (such as with ruffled or punctured wrapping).
  6. Inspect the food for edible Marijuana. As marijuana becomes legalized in more states, the danger of a young ‘prankster’ giving children a gummy bear of the wrong kind increases.

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Some more tips
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