The Boogie Man is Not Out There: Trick-or-Treating Truths and Tips

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“Set yourself, and your kids, up for a worry free night of trick-or-treating by creating a plan and establishing rules before they go.”

iStock_000027472031SmallGood news for everyone who’s on the fence about letting the not-so-littles take off trick-or-treating in free roaming kid packs free to feed their sugar Jones this Halloween: the Boogie Man is not out there waiting for them.

Trust me, before giving my 12-year-old the green light to go it alone with a few of her friends this Halloween, I tried my hardest to find evidence that my “they’ll be fine” instinct was off. I scoured cyberspace for stories about the horrible things that happen to kids on Halloween.

Turns out horrible things don’t happen to kids on Halloween.

At least, no more than they do on any other day. Letting your kids and their friends trick-or-treat without you will not make them pedophile bait.

Ask yourself: In our age of amber alerts and beat-it-into-the-ground around the clock tragedy coverage do you think we’d have to dig for stories if kids went out to trick-or-treat and didn’t come home?

There’d be no missing it.

The crimes that haunt our collective conscious and fuel our mama (and papa) neurosis? Good old fashion urban legend.

Still, sending them out at night is a big decision. Only you can make it. There is no magical age of responsibility when all kids are ready to be without an adult. You know your kids. You know your neighborhood. You know their friends.

I’m completely comfortable sending Roxie with her crew. At 12, she’s my size. She takes a city bus to and from school on her own everyday. She’s aware of herself and her surroundings. She’s comfortable in the world. I trust her to make smart decisions.

But she’s not going without some clear guidelines to keep us all confident.

Set yourself, and your kids, up for a worry free night by creating a plan and establishing rules before they go.

1. Set boundaries. Make sure they know the neighborhood and agree on the streets or blocks where they can be. Consider mapping a route for younger kids (8-, 9 or 10-year-olds) to follow so you know where they will be.

2. Plan check in times. Set phone alarms to remind them to call or text along the way.

3. Have a clear curfew.

4. Talk to them about the about car safety, sticking to the sidewalks, using their flashlights and staying on well lit streets. The biggest danger they face is traffic. Kids are twice as likely to be hit on Halloween, but even with the danger doubled the numbers are low. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported during a five-year period between 2006 and 2010, a total 16 pedestrians under 21 were killed nationwide on October 31, compared to a total of 11 death on October 30 and November 1.

5. No going into unknown houses or cards. Yes, taking candy from strangers is OK, but going into strange houses or approaching unknown cars is still way out of bounds. Make sure they understand the distinction.

6. Buddy up. It’s easy to get lost or lose someone in a crowd in the dark. Encourage kids roving in big groups to buddy up and make sure no one is accidentally left.

7. Go easy on the candy eating. Sure, go ahead and tell them not to much the loot along the way. But know they will. And remind yourself of those urban legends.

Being spooked is part of the fun. Go with it.
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