Do you have a teenager in your house that’s begging to go trick-or-treating without you this year? Does the very thought of sending your kid out to roam the dark streets on Halloween night send chills of parental anxiety down your spine? Don’t worry. With the right instructions from you and a little responsibility on their part, your teen can navigate through his first year of unsupervised trick-or-treating just fine.
Make sure when you’re giving your teen instructions, you cover the following five points:
1. Practice Safety First
Don’t actually use that phrase, however, unless you want your kid moaning and groaning about your complete and utter lameness. But do let them know that they need to follow all of the usual safety precautions, like carrying a flashlight, crossing streets carefully, making sure they’re able to see clearly out of their costume, and making sure they wear something other than a black sheet so that people in cars can see them.
2. Travel in a Pack
This is likely one point your teen won’t have any problem with: let them know that they need to get together a group of at least three kids to go trick-or-treating. And as the responsible adult that’s authorizing this Halloween excursion, you get to approve your teen’s choice of trick-or-treating buddies. You reserve the right to veto anyone you think might talk your otherwise sensible teen into egging a house.
3. Don’t Talk to Strangers
Explain to your teen that you know this is a no-brainer for them, and yes, you realize that they’re not going to know the people behind every door they trick-or-treat at, but Halloween is a kid-centric holiday and those sometimes bring out the weirdos. They need to be alert to who is around them, and if any adults start to follow their group or approach them for any reason, head for a house with a porch light on and ask for help. In addition, if an adult at a house your teen trick-or-treats at asks them to come in for any reason, don’t. Stay on the porch or get the heck out of there if the situation seems strange.
4. Don’t be a Delinquent
Remind them that you also reserve the right to ground their butts for eternity and beyond, and take away any future Halloween candy excursions if they so much as think about TP-ing a house or throwing an egg. Seriously, you’re trusting them to go off on their own, and you should make it clear that if your teenager breaks that trust, you will levy some consequences.
5. Be Cool to Little Kids
Halloween is primarily an event for younger kids, so let your teenager know that they should watch out for the little guys out there: do not bully, scare or steal candy from anyone. Then explain the concept of karma, and how stealing candy from a six year-old might result in a certain parent seizing an entire stash of Halloween candy from a certain grounded teenager. The whole stash, and not just the all the delicious, er, suspicious mini Hershey’s bars you confiscate during the annual Halloween candy inspection.
Halloween should be fun for your kid, and trick-or-treating without a parent for the first time is a big deal. Don’t feel you have to freak your teen out before they venture out trick-or-treating on their own, but do be candid about the potential dangers out there and what they should do to keep themselves safe, out of trouble, and having a great time on Halloween night.