Halloween is pretty straightforward when you have young children. An adult in charge determines the trick-or-treating schedule and route and accompanies the children from house to house. But as kids get older, they might want to go trick-or-treating with their friends—and without an adult chaperone.
The age at which you allow your kids to do this is entirely a personal decision. Consider factors such as the safety of your neighborhood and how responsible the children are. While it does mean you will be able to stay home and hand out candy yourself on Halloween, it also can be a bit unnerving to send your kids out to trick-or-treat sans an adult presence. So it's important to set some ground rules for your kids.
Here are five essential trick-or-treating rules for tweens and teens.
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Plan the Route and Stick to It
A few days before Halloween, sit down with your kids and help them map out the route for trick-or-treating. Choose an area that you know is safe, has sidewalks, is well lit, highly populated, and familiar to them. Also, make sure it is a self-contained neighborhood, so your kids won't be crossing any busy streets to get to houses. Plus, it should be an area that you know gets a lot of trick-or-treating foot traffic, so your kids won't be the only ones going up to houses. Stress to your kids that they must stick to this planned route and stay in the prescribed area.
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Trick-or-Treat in a Group
There's safety in numbers, so make sure your kids trick-or-treat in a group. Let them know that their group must stick together for the entire outing. And talk with your kids ahead of time about what to do if someone in their group wants to head home early or break off and trick-or-treat alone or with another group. Discuss this with the other kids' guardians as well, so everyone is on the same page.
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Start and Finish Early
Many communities have designated trick-or-treating hours that often begin in the afternoon but end well into nightfall. Usually, the peak time for most people to be out is right around dusk, so plan on that being the time you send your kids out trick-or-treating. That way, there will be more eyes around looking out for them. And they will be done before it's totally dark out. Set a time for when they're supposed to be home, and make sure they have cellphones so you can check in with each other.
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Use Common Sense
Prior to Halloween, take the time to remind your kids about some common sense safety rules. For example:
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- Never enter the home of someone you don't know, even if you're with a friend.
- Don't take rides from anyone without your parent's permission.
- Don't run in streets; stay on sidewalks and curbs, and look both ways before you cross.
- Don't eat your trick-or-treating candy until you've brought it home and inspected it with the adults in the house.
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Stay Calm in an Emergency
It's easy to get spooked on Halloween. So talk with your kids ahead of time about what could go wrong, and make sure they know what to do during an emergency, such as if someone falls and gets hurt. Also, try a few role-play scenarios, such as one that teaches your kids how to react to a stranger approaching them.