Should You Allow Your Young Child to Go Trick-or-Treating this Year?

toddler in Halloween costume

We teach our children all year long to stay close to mom and dad, to not talk to strangers, and “DO NOT take candy from strangers!” We supervise the things they watch on TV and monitor their computer usage for age-appropriateness and content, because we don’t want them to see anything that is going to give them nightmares. Then something happens to our deductive reasoning and parenting skills: Halloween.

Toddlers are independent little people! Let your toddler play an active role in choosing to wear or not to wear a costume.

Yes, beautiful daughter, please put on the bloodiest costume you can find. Please, go.

Knock on strangers’ doors. Take their candy, and don’t be shy!

Never mind that the scarecrow sitting on the porch bench is going to jump out at you and probably give you nightmares about gardening until you’re 30. It’s Halloween, so it’s all in good fun!

Oh, and remember how I torture you every night at dinner, making you eat your vegetables? Forget about all that healthy eating stuff for tonight too. Have as much candy as you want. In fact, go beg the neighbors for more!

Now, I’m speaking in jest here, of course. But I’m serious when I say that there are some real dangers that Halloween presents , and we shouldn’t overlook them. Here are a few things you’ll want to consider before taking your little one out trick-or-treating this year.

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Too Scary?

My neighbors have a 10- and 13-year-old, whom my little ones love and adore. They play outside together in the summer like there’s no age difference at all, even though my kids are six, three, and one, respectively. They are good kids; and I’m happy to have them around my kids … on any day but Halloween.

They are older; and so, for them, the blood and gore of Halloween is part of the appeal. But, for my littles, who last year dressed up as a fairy princess, hamburger, and lion cub, their friendly neighborhood pals dressing up with guts hanging out – missing an eyeball – is a little more than their young minds can handle. So we don’t tend to trick-or-treat together. We also avoid the really “festive” houses with scary music, smoke machines, and corpses.

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Digital Image by Sean Locke Digital Planet Design www.digitalplanetdesign.com

Blurred Lines

I know it was the musical hit of the summer, but even Robin Thicke hates “those blurred lines.” And what I really mean is that line between what is okay interaction with a stranger, versus not okay. Halloween shouldn’t be a time to let your guard down. If anything, we should be more aware of our children interacting with strangers on their doorstep.

Be nearby! Hear the interaction and check the candy – the same way your parents did when you were 10, before you were allowed into your stash. You can never be too cautious when it comes to the health and safety of your child. I’d rather be called “paranoid” my whole life, rather than wish I had been more so when it comes to protecting my child.

Talk with your children, before you leave the house, about guidelines for the night. Let them know what you expect and stick to it.

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Be Visible

As much as I hate to admit it’s happening, the sun is leaving us earlier and earlier every day. Keep this in mind as you set out for trick-or-treating. With little ones, the earlier the better. Not just to be seen, but also to avoid the older kids, who tend to come out a little later. Put reflective tape on your child’s costumes and treat bags; and if you’re bringing a stroller, make sure that can be seen as well. If you’re going to be driving your vehicle, keep in mind that there will be some parents who are not as vigilant, so be extra cautious of any children who may be in your path.

Halloween should be fun. Heck, I heard calories don’t even count on Halloween! But, help keep the “happy” in your Halloween by being aware of and prepared for the potential pitfalls.

Have you had any incidents with past Halloweens? What advice would you give a new mom heading out with her toddlers this Halloween?

{ MORE:  9 Halloween Survival Tips }

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Should You Allow Your Young Child to Go Trick-or-Treating this Year?

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5 comments

  1. myra says:

    I love this site!

  2. jessica says:

    My 3 year old son has been dressed up and taken trick or treating since his first halloween at 4 months old, I’m not about to stop until he is ready and doesn’t want to anymore. He’s going to be a firefighter this year and he’s so excited to wear his costume!

  3. Grace says:

    my son is 1 roughly and is scared of scary customs, i have a 6 yr old who wants to be a princess, and 4 year old who wants to be a kangroo, my 12 yr old nephew wants candy but does not want to dress up at all. i am not sure what we will do this year, but would love ideas on how other moms keep the candy away from the children in order to inspect it first? my children last year was their 1st year and they goobled down candy as soon as they left the doorsteps….

  4. Margarita says:

    It’s a delicate balance. I was talking to another mom about how one of her favorite things about Halloween is swing all her neighbors, something that becomes less and less common these days. I remember going with friends and taking their kids trick or treating years ago. If we hit a friend’s house, we’d even come in for a drink for the grown ups and a snack for the kiddos. I’d like to think this is something I could do with my daughter some day, but she definitely doesn’t like monsters or anything too scary these days. Last year was her first year trick or treating. She was three. We actually went trunk or treating. It’s a concept some churches, museums, etc, started a few years ago, and I gotta say, it’s great for this age group. There are always guidelines and costume or decoration contests for the folks giving out candy. You still interact, though not as long, you’re not going into other people’s houses, and for the people giving candy, there’s less concern about people coming to their’s, etc. we may graduate to the real thing when she’s a little older. But for this year, and maybe the next, this works for us.

  5. Rainbow says:

    my son is going to be close to 14 months by Halloween this year. and i am really excited. we go into halloween stores with “scary” things and he LOVES them. Halloween is my all time favorite holiday. plus, he will watch scary movies and such and there were even a few times where if i went to change it for something more “age appropriate” he would cry. so i would leave it on, never going over the TV time limit and he would watch it. hopefully this attitude stays because i LOVE Halloween and i hope he does too!

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