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Tips for a Successful & Happy Halloween

Halloween is almost here!

One of my favorite holidays has become even more fun since having my own kids to share and experience it with.  But what happens when they don’t love it as much as you? Or, if the things you find fun and exciting cause them fear leading them to engage in unwanted behaviors? 

Like all highly anticipated holidays and events, there is a fine line between success and total disaster when dealing with little humans, and big ones too!  It may feel at times that things can get out of your control.  However, preparing for situations that may arise and exercising flexibility are the keys to having a successful Halloween night!

Watch our Halloween episode on Panel with the Professionals

Here are a handful of important considerations I try to think through prior to Halloween night:  

Envision the evening and set limits and expectations for your children. It is important that your children know what to expect and have a pre-understanding of how the night will play out.  Doing this will prevent/reduce meltdowns, arguments, or negative behaviors.  With my three young kids, we talk about the street we will trick-or-treat on, and then which house we will make it to before crossing the street and returning home on the other side.  Using a timer can also be a helpful tool as means for setting limits (Read: Using a Timer to Cue Transitions).  For older kids, it’s important to set time limits as well as boundary limits (Read: How to Create Boundaries for Your Children).  And for kids of any age, don’t forget to remind them to say, “Thank you!” (Read: Teaching Your Kids ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’).

Know your child/children, adjust YOUR expectations, and be flexible in the moment. For example...

    • Start Early: Consider going out early before dark if your children are young or get over stimulated to avoid crowds/spooky decorations in the dark. 
    • Pre-Night Warm Up: Try walking around the neighborhood to see the decorations prior to Halloween, especially if decorations/unknown locations can trigger your child. 
    • Familiar Faces Only: Try going only to neighbors/houses they know so they aren’t surprised by unfamiliar people or scary costumes.  
    • Candy Giver: Consider the possibility that passing out candy may be more fun for your child than going trick or treating.  Some of the benefits include getting to be the candy giver, getting to see lots of fun costumes, having the chance to give candy for a short (or specified) amount of time and then do something else. 
    • Costume Envy: There is a high probability that your child will see a costume they wish they had or like better than their own.  Leading up to Halloween, talk about how they can plan for next year; maybe even discuss how you can make a list on your phone, so that when your child sees a costume that they love, you can “note” it for the next year.  Also discuss how they can pass down their costume to other kids who would love the one they are wearing. 
    Mom and Dad helping daughter with costume

    Create your trick-or-treating plan with your significant other and the other families participating with you.  Talk about what route you are going, how long you will be out, and what candy allowance you are setting for that evening.  

    Discuss with your family what will happen with the candy left after the allowance for the evening.  Can they keep all the candy and eat over time? Will they be allowed to pick a certain number of pieces and then donate the rest to a candy drive?  Will they be allowed to cash in their candy for a toy prize?  Or, maybe they can spend their points to “buy” candy throughout the month (Read: How to Improve Your Child's Behavior with a Points System)?  When everyone is involved in and aware of the expectations in advance, it’s less likely to become an issue after the fact.

      Dress for weather, adjust costumes accordingly.  Yes, I have been that mom whose baby is in a ridiculously hot polyester costume at a Halloween party in 90-degree weather; and yes, I have had to frantically find matching base layers for my 3-year-old trying to wear her tutu tank-top superhero costume when it was 45-degrees out and raining all because I wasn’t prepared.   

      Pro Tips for a Happy Halloween from Parent Like a Professional:

      Go out with more than one adult when possible if you are with more than one kid.  This allows more flexibility when one child wants to walk up to the spooky house and the other wants to stay back. 

      Light yourself up:  Going out at night is great if you can quickly identify your children and they can find you.  Using light up necklaces or flashlight necklaces with whistles can help ease the fear of losing each other in the crowds.  Here are a few of my favorites: 

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      LifeGear: Reusable Glow Stick and Flashlight Combo Light-Up Skull Halloween Necklace

      When it’s all said and done, the goal is to have a fun and memorable night.  Preparing, being flexible, and keeping fun and safety in the forefront ensures a less stressful time for you and your family and models the right attitude for your kids! 


      Written by Monica Yenokida, M.S., B.C.B.A.

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