Halloween is the quintessential kids’ holiday.  What could be better than dressing up as monsters and ghouls, playing a citywide game of pretend, and receiving gifts of chocolate and candy for your mischief?  And yet, this holiday is fraught with worry for most parents.  Younger children are generally escorted by supervising adults who can guarantee their safety and peruse every piece of candy for dangerous objects before they go down the gullet of an eager ward.  But as kids get older, they will no doubt chomp at the bit to be out of arm’s reach and gallivanting around the block with their friends.  Of course you can tell them to be careful and not to eat anything before you’ve had a chance to check it, but how many kids can resist the call of candy when there are no parents in sight?  And then there is the ever-present fear of child-snatching or other criminal activity…it would be pretty hard to identify an offender in a mask.  However, you can find ways to relax and enjoy this ghoulish holiday even when your kids are out on their own.  All you have to do is follow a few simple safety tips.

  1. Grant cell phone privileges.  If your child doesn’t have a cell phone, you should lend them one for the night with strict instructions to check in at set intervals.  If they do have a cell phone, don’t hesitate to install a tracking feature that will allow you to chart their location via an online map.
  2. Give them candy.  Okay, this seems a little antithetical to the whole trick-or-treat experience, but if you send them off with a bag of candy that’s pre-approved for eating (let them pick the items they like), then they are a lot more likely to resist eating any treats they procure from strangers until you can comb through them.
  3. Send them with friends.  Most parents wouldn’t dream of sending their kids out trick-or-treating alone, but you also don’t want to set them up with a group they don’t get along with (on the off-chance they might ditch out).  So consider letting them choose the friends they’ll go out with and then call their parents to confirm the plan.
  4. Discuss safety measures.  Don’t yell directives as they run out the door; by that time they’re probably not listening.  Instead, sit them down a few days ahead of time to go over safety measures (you know the standards – don’t leave the group, don’t talk to strangers, etc.).  Then quiz them throughout the week to ensure that they know their stuff.
  5. Make a contingency plan.  Just in case an emergency arises while your kids are out, make a contingency plan with simple steps for them to follow.  If, for example, they are approached by a stranger, they should know to scream (since most criminals would rather run away than risk exposure).  Then they should call or come home immediately.  Or if one of the kids in the group is choking, they should go to the nearest house for adult help while someone dials 9-1-1.  These things seem obvious to us as adults, but informing children of what to do in case of emergency could make the difference between life-saving action and utter panic.

Jennifer Kardish writes for a website that specializes in Halloween costumes. If you’re looking for great Halloween costumes for kids, you can’t beat the selection at Every Costume.

Image source:  halloweencostumescene.com

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