Halloween Tricks to Make Family Life a Little Less Scary

by Parenting Power

We often get questions from our clients. Here are three gremlins that have been haunting these families, along with tricks to make things more of a treat.

"Our seven-year-old son is a wimp and it is starting to drive me crazy! Everything is a drama.  Now with Halloween coming up, he doesn’t want to wear and costume and claims that Halloween is scary and doesn’t want to go trick or treating.  The thing is, when we force him to do stuff and go places, he always ends up having fun.  So, how do we skip the drama and enjoy Halloween this year?"

Tell him how you are feeling, acknowledge his feelings and make a plan.  Sometimes children have learned various ways of getting our attention – even negative attention.  It sounds like your son has learned to get your attention through drama – and if you keep “letting it drive you crazy” he will keep doing it. 

Specifically for the Halloween situation, ask him ONCE if he wants to wear a costume and go trick or treating, offer help and guidance in getting the costume ready of his choice and if he says no – tell him that is fine but follow through – no costume and no trick or treating. 

We need to let our children learn from their choices and natural consequences.  Your actions are telling him very strongly that he can make choices but there will be consequences sometimes.  So...when he then wants to go trick or treating you don’t cave – and remind yourself – it will not affect his life  or your life in a year.

"Here we go again – Halloween!  As if our kids don’t get enough junk, now there are classroom parties, community parties and the actual night.  Our son is a sugar freak and is obsessed with candy – any kind.  Any suggestions on how we might deal with the inevitable fights over junk that are about to happen the day after Halloween?"

You are right, Halloween does come every year and yes, there is candy associated with it and probably always will be.  Therefore, instead of fighting about it each year, come up with a plan.  NOW is the time to be talking about it, not right after a party or the night of Halloween when he gets home. 

Decide what you think is a reasonable amount for him to be eating – this is a family decision, with the child.  Some families will allow something every day, others, every other day, some, once a week.  You could also talk about how much candy is okay to keep and what you are going to do with the rest – freeze it, take it to a shelter, etc.

"Our daughter wants to go out trick or treating with her friends this year and no parents.  She is in grade five which seems a little young to me.  Your thoughts???"

On a positive note, there is safety in numbers.  Questions to ask – are the other parents in agreement (call them), when are they going, and when will they be home, where are they going.  Can you have a meeting spot to check in halfway through?  Can they come home for a candy drop off mid-evening?  What is their plan if something unexpected happens? 

Run through different scenarios.  When our children approach us with different opportunities for them to be independent – as parents we need to consider them versus shutting our kids down.  Better that we know what they are doing, where and with whom, then them sneaking around and lying.

From Julie Freedman Smith & Gail Bell, Parenting Power