When they were little, Halloween was easy because you went trick-or-treating with them. But as your kids get older, they'll want to head out with their friends on Halloween—sans adults. And while this means you'll finally be able to hand out candy yourself, instead of leaving a bowl by the front door, it's also a little unnerving. To keep your safe this year, pass along these essential trick-or-treating rules for tweens and teens:
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Plan Your Route & 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:
- Is safe
- Has sidewalks
- Is a self-contained neighborhood
- Is well-lit
- Is highly populated, and
- Is familiar to them
Let them know, too, that you'll be expecting them to stay in the area where they said they'd be.
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Trick-or-Treat in a Group
There's safety in numbers, so make sure that your kids trick-or-treat as a group—and to stick together throughout the evening. If you're not entirely comfortable with the thought of your kids trick-or-treating without an adult, make plans to stay nearby (on the sidewalk or in your car). In addition, talk with your kids ahead of time about what to do if one of their friends wants to head home early or break off and trick-or-treat alone or with another group.
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Head Out –– and Back Home –– Early
In most towns, trick-or-treating begins before dark and ends by 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. Let your kids know when you expect them to be home, and use your cell phones to check in with one another periodically. (Remind them to charge their phones ahead of time and keep the ringers on while they're trick-or-treating, too.)
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Use Common Sense
Take the opportunity to review your rules and remind your kids:
Continue to 5 of 5 below.
- Never to enter the home of someone they don't know—even when they're with a friend.
- Not to take rides from anyone without your permission.
- What to do if they're approached by someone in a car or by a group of older kids looking to stir up trouble.
- Not to eat their loot until after they get home and you have a chance to inspect it. (This is a tough one, but it's still the safest route.)
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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. Take the time to role play a few scenarios, too, like what to do if someone gets hurt or they're approached by a stranger.