Get Ready – Halloween
Halloween is a “tricky” holiday for many reasons. Schools, communities and neighborhoods have begun to organize safe Halloween events that are organized, held in one spot at a specific time and include many adults monitoring children and activities. Our neighborhood elementary school has a “Trunk or Treat” evening. Families gather in the parking area of the school and open their trunks which often hold pumpkins and decorations. Children in costumes (or not) parade through the parking lot and stop at each trunk to get a Halloween treat. There are many adults who parade with the kids, hand out treats and keep everyone safe and happy.
Halloween is one day on the calendar, but like all holidays it can take on a life of its own. Although advertisements show cute little witches, puffy baby pumpkins and shiny suited Super Heroes, Halloween is really an adult day. Young children, by nature, have difficulty suspending reality – what they know as real in their life. This is why very young children are often frightened or bewildered by other children and adults in large and loud costumes. This doesn’t match what they know.
Often there are older children in families too, who are excited about Halloween costumes and trick or treating. With their older siblings, sometimes very young children are put in full costume dressing; make up, wigs and accessories on Halloween. It’s all very busy, often loud and always confusing. And this is what Halloween is to very young children – confusing. A requirement to suspend reality and go with the flow. It’s a lot.
Infants truly don’t understand any of it, aren’t allowed to eat the treats given and fuss over fussy costumes. Halloween is not a holiday for infants. Toddlers aren’t really sure what is going on, but tend to like thinking and buying things for Halloween ahead of time. But when “push comes to shove” and they are dressed with other children who are running around dressed up like bats and Batman, they are confused and often afraid. It’s a lot for toddlers and they don’t last very long.
Preschoolers are ok, if they like their costumes and it’s not all that crazy and busy. Older children just like the candy and running around with their friends. You should always be with them.
By now, the costumes are ready (or not), the treats are bought (or not) and events are planned (or not). But one way or another, Halloween will be here on October 31st. So whether your child is very young or “older” and ready for a night of dress up & treats, these are some good ideas for Halloween safety and fun:
- Always stay with your children trick or treating. Stay in your own neighborhood with familiar homes and people. Go in groups and stay together.
- A little trick or treating goes a long way.
Remember children are little and get tired quickly (and lose interest quickly).
- Add reflective tape to any costume.
- Face make-up is safer than a mask, capes get caught on things, and sneakers are fine with a princess dress. Even super-heroes get cold and need a jacket to dress for the weather.
- A pillow case makes a good treat bag.
- Treats should always be inspected by adults before eating.
- Don’t take anything that isn’t yours. Be careful of decorations and other children.
- Teach children that you will only go to houses that have lights on, to take one piece of candy if a candy bowl is offered and to always say thank you. There are many Halloween community, neighborhood, school and church events. These are great alternatives to outdoor trick or treating on Halloween night. They are planned, monitored, designed for families and lots of fun i.e. Trunk or Treat.
“Dear Great Pumpkin, I am looking forward to your arrival on Halloween Night.”