You’re walking slowly down a dark sidewalk. A gust of chilly wind kicks up a swirl of clattering leaves in front of you. A short, ghoulish skeleton runs by to your left, chasing a happily screaming, sparkly fairy princess. Creepy music is coming from the house to your right, where a row of pumpkins grin crookedly at you from up on the porch, their garish smiles illuminated by flickering candles.
Typical, fun-filled Halloween scene, right? Now look at it from your toddler’s perspective. Holy cow, no wonder your toddler is cranky and out-of-sorts! So how can parents show your toddlers that Halloween is all about dress-up fun, free candy and good times, and not the cold, confusing and slightly terrifying ordeal it appears to the Halloween uninitiated?
Check out the tips and tricks below for preventing crankiness on Halloween:
Start preparing your toddler for Halloween at the beginning of October.
Get your child used to the idea of Halloween ahead of time, instead of springing it on them on the 31st. Talk about the holiday with them, check out Halloween-themed books from the library, and watch a couple of toddler-friendly Halloween flicks, like Pooh’s Hefflalump Halloween Movie, or the classic, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
Make picking out a costume a fun event.
Once your child is starting to get an idea of what Halloween is all about, explain that it’s time to pick out a Halloween costume! Whether your child is the dinosaur or ballerina type, make sure the costume that you make or buy is easily visible and loose fitting, with room beneath for layers of clothing in case of cold weather. And don’t just save the costume until Halloween – let your child wear it around and get comfortable in it ahead of time!
Decide whether your toddler is ready for trick-or-treating.
If you don’t think your child is ready for the full trick-or-treating experience, check around for toddler-friendly alternatives. For example, some malls open their doors to trick-or-treaters, handing out candy at each store. Many nursing home residents also appreciate visits from costumed kiddos.
Eliminate crankiness-causing factors ahead of time.
When the big day rolls around, make sure your toddler gets a good afternoon nap and is well-rested and ready to roll that evening. Pack a bag with tissues, a little snack and a bottle of juice or water, along with anything else you think that your child might need later on. Dress your toddler in layers underneath their costume, according to what the weather is going to be like that evening. A comfortable child is less-likely to be cranky.
Have fun on Halloween!
If you decide to hit the streets and teach your toddler the joys of trick-or-treating, try and get out as early as possible. Most folks begin handing out candy around 6:00, while older kids tend to wait until 7:00 or so to get going. Head first to neighbors that your toddler knows, so they’ll be able to try out their “Trick-or-treat!” shouting on familiar faces. Most importantly, be sure to start heading home when your child starts acting like they’ve had enough fun, in order to avoid a full-scale meltdown.
For a child not used to the exciting and somewhat overwhelming nature of Halloween, it can be a stressful and somewhat freaky experience, resulting in whining, crying and sometimes full-blown tantrums. But with a little thoughtful planning, you can prevent toddler crankiness on Halloween and make sure that you and your kiddo both have a great time!