As the days grow shorter and the leaves start to fall, the annual tradition of Halloween’s Trick-or-Treat brings excitement and anticipation to households across the county. For many parents, this time of year presents an opportunity to encourage independence and responsibility in their preteen children. One way to do so is by allowing them to embark on the adventure of trick-or-treating in their neighborhood without direct supervision. While the idea of letting your preteens venture out on their own may initially raise concerns, it is a valuable and empowering experience that can teach them essential life skills while still maintaining the magic and fun of this beloved holiday. Let’s explore the benefits of allowing your preteen the independence to go off into the night and I’ll give you 10 tips that I plan on using this Trick-or-Treat Season.
Why we Think Allowing Independence is good for Our Preteens
Now some might think this is way too scary and no way they would let their kids go off by themselves, but here me out. Think back to the time your parents finally let you do something on your own. No help from them and no guidance (from what you know) from them. You felt so empowered, I bet you even felt like they really trusted you, didn’t you?
Not all kids are ready for this responsibility, but for those who are here are the benefits I see in allowing Independence this Halloween season, especially in your neighborhood.
- Decision-Making Skills: Allowing preteens to navigate their trick-or-treat route independently gives them the chance to make decisions about which houses to visit and when to return home. This helps sharpen their decision-making skills as they assess various options and prioritize their choices.
- Time Management: Setting a curfew and sticking to it teaches preteens the importance of time management. They must budget their time wisely to ensure they visit all desired houses while still adhering to the agreed-upon return time.
- Problem-Solving: When preteens encounter challenges or unexpected situations during their solo trick-or-treat adventure, they have the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills. Whether it’s getting turned around or handling a tricky situation with peers, these experiences can foster resilience and creativity in finding solutions.
- Self-Confidence: Successfully navigating the neighborhood and collecting treats independently can boost a preteen’s self-confidence. The sense of accomplishment derived from accomplishing this task reinforces their belief in their abilities.
- Social Skills: Trick-or-treating independently often involves interacting with neighbors, friends, and possibly strangers. This provides a platform for preteens to practice their social skills, such as saying “thank you” and engaging in polite conversations.
- Safety Awareness: As preteens venture out on their own, they become more aware of their surroundings and the importance of personal safety. This heightened awareness can translate into safer behaviors in various aspects of their lives.
- Responsibility for Personal Belongings: Managing their own trick-or-treat bags or containers and keeping track of their belongings teaches preteens responsibility for their possessions. It encourages them to take care of what’s important to them and fosters a sense of ownership.
Incorporating these responsibilities into their Halloween traditions not only makes the holiday more enjoyable for them but also sets a foundation for responsible behavior that can benefit them throughout their lives.
What we Plan on Doing for Our Preteens
This will be our 5th Trick-or-Treat in our neighborhood and although I’ve hung back and let my kids go three or four houses in front of me and the babies, I think this will be the year the two middle kids go with their friends.
Here are my Top 10 Tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable Halloween night for both you and your children:
- Plan the Route Together: Before your children head out, sit down with them and plan their trick-or-treat route. Encourage them to stick to familiar streets and neighborhoods. Use maps or apps to help them understand their route and set a specific time for them to return home.
- Plan with other Parents: After the route has been set look for parents of other kids the same age or older neighbors that may be sitting out enjoying the night. Staying in contact with your kids and other adults will easy any doubts you may have.
- Set Clear Rules and Boundaries: Establish a set of rules and boundaries for the evening. Discuss curfew, appropriate behavior, and expectations for staying with their friends or groups. Ensure they understand the importance of staying in well-lit areas and not entering strangers’ homes.
- Equip Them with Safety Gear: Make sure your kids are visible in the dark. Provide them with reflective clothing, glow sticks, or flashlights to increase their visibility to motorists. Ensure they have a fully charged cellphone and teach them how to use it in case of emergencies.
- Review Stranger Danger: Remind your children about the importance of not talking to or accepting treats from strangers. Encourage them to only visit homes with porch lights on and to stay in groups. Teach them to trust their instincts if they feel uncomfortable in any situation and to seek help from a trusted adult nearby.
- Emergency Preparedness: Ensure your preteen knows what to do in case of an emergency. Teach them how to use a cellphone to call for help, provide them with a list of emergency contacts, and discuss what to do if they get lost. Reinforce the importance of finding a trusted adult or going to a well-lit public area if they feel uneasy.
- Respect for Others’ Property: Instill a sense of respect for others’ property by reminding your preteen to avoid trampling gardens, littering, or causing damage while trick-or-treating. This helps them understand the importance of respecting community spaces and fosters a sense of responsibility for their actions.
- Adaptability: Halloween can sometimes bring unexpected weather or other challenges. Teach your preteen the importance of being adaptable and how to handle unforeseen circumstances. This might involve having a backup plan for inclement weather, being flexible with their route, or adjusting their expectations if things don’t go exactly as planned.
- Check Candy Before Eating: Before indulging in their Halloween treats, have your children bring their candy home for inspection. Look for any tampered or unwrapped items, and discard anything suspicious. This practice ensures that their treats are safe to consume.
- Reflect on the Experience: After the trick-or-treating adventure, have a conversation with your preteens to reflect on their experiences. Ask them what they enjoyed, what challenges they faced, and what they learned. Encourage them to think critically about their actions and decisions, fostering self-awareness and growth.
By implementing these tips, you create a balance between granting your preteens independence and ensuring their safety during their Halloween adventure. It’s an opportunity for them to learn valuable life skills while having a memorable and enjoyable experience.
Indoor Trick or Treat
Another place to encourage independence for younger children on Halloween is taking part in Trunk-or-Treats or Indoor Trick or Treats. We’ve been fortunate to have Brookdale in Bowling Green host indoor trick or treat an hour before the city kicks off its trick or treat. Having this for younger children not only allows them to have a little bit of freedom to walk around asking for goodies, but it also allows the residents to continue to be a part of their hometown community.
I hope however you choose to Trick or Treat this Halloween season you do it safe and do it fun. Whether you’re allowing your kids to spread their wings and let them go around the block with friends on the best night of the year or heading to a local school parking lot’s trunk or treat as a family. Remember to make it the year you have FUN!