By Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S

It’s that time of year again, the season when ghosts and goblins walk among us (if only for a night). Children, costumed and excited, take to the streets with one common goal – find Snickers, Nerds, and Tootsie Rolls!

Yes, Halloween is thrilling for kids and this makes it thrilling for parents too. But, it’s not all fun and games. There are certain things about it that require extra vigilance.

So, to make sure Halloween is safe for your mermaid or werewolf, consider these tips:

Trick-or-treat with others: Trick-or-treating with mom and dad doesn’t cramp the style of young kids, but older ones usually long for independence. Still, going door to door without you doesn’t mean doing it alone. Encourage older kids to trick-or-treat with friends or siblings. And send a cell phone along, just in case.

Consider age-appropriate activities: Children have a hard time differentiating between fact and fiction – the brain doesn’t know the difference between the real and imagined. Remember this during the season of poltergeists and killer clowns. Not all things that come with the holiday are appropriate for all ages.  The bottom line is this: you may know there is a person behind that scary mask, but your child may not.

This is worth noting because, at its root, Halloween is a day designed to scare. But not every child is up for this. In fact, a study conducted in 2005 by Penn State psychologist Cindy Dell Clark found that most parents underestimate how frightening Halloween is for their kids…..and this underestimation can tarnish the holiday forever.

Wear the right clothes: Your child’s costume may call for red ruby slippers, but make sure those slippers are comfortable. Shoes that pinch or squish the toes aren’t ideal for hitting the pavement in the name of Hershey’s. Costumes require proactivity too – avoid things with heavy masks. They’ll make it difficult for your child to see. Avoid costumes that are dark-colored as well. They’ll make it difficult for others to see your child.

Keep a clear path: From bikes to trikes, many things act as tripping hazards for children walking in the dark. Garden hoses are especially good at snarling the feet of an unsuspecting trick-or-treater.  So, if you’re handing out candy on October 31st, be sure that the exterior of your home is free of debris. Make sure it’s well-lit too, at least light enough so Superman and Wonder Woman can reach your front porch without any problems.

And one last important tip before the big night arrives: talk to your children about this holiday.  Talk about the differences between real and fantasy and everything in between.  As parents, we may not think this is important to do, but it is.

Halloween is a fun time of year, especially for kids and the parents who love them.  These tips don’t guarantee great candy (or no ensuing cavities), but they help keep your vampires happy and your ghosts free of “boo-boos.”

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