Keeping Kids Safe on Hallowe’en

Boo.  The weather is changing, the leaves are turning colour and falling off the trees and your kids are gearing up for Hallowe’en.

I’m excited. We live in a complex with lots of kids and I am looking forward to greeting them at my door.


Hallowe’en. It used to be so simple.

For children, it’s a wonderful holiday and quite unlike any other. They get to be out after dark, dress in outfits, go from house to house and collect goodies. It’s strange, slightly scary, spooky, exciting, and fun.

For parents, Halloween has become a frightening ritual. We’re nervous about stranger abduction, traffic and the safety of the goodies our children are receiving.

In many communities parents have replaced the traditional Halloween ritual with Community Centre parties. For kids this just isn’t the same thing.

Halloween is unique and should be a positive experience for our children. The trick is to make it safe without ruining it.


Costumes that are unwieldy, uncomfortable or make it hard to see and be seen, are a concern. Make sure that the costume is short enough so your active youngster won’t be constantly tripping on long skirts. She will not be walking sedately; she’ll often be running so consider that when you plan her clothing.

It’s dark outside so have him wear a costume that is a light colour or use reflective tape. The more visible your child is, the safer he will be.

October weather can be cold so design her costume so that it’s large enough to accommodate warm clothing underneath. That can be a challenge if your little princess is also going to an indoor party, but a pretty, flimsy dress without a coat just isn’t going to work in October.

Comfortable walking shoes are a must. If he needs boots ensure that they are ones that will be comfortable all evening.

And it’s a good idea to use make-up instead of masks so she can see more easily. If she wears a mask, have her put it on when she gets to the door and remove it as she leaves the house.

Kids Who Go Out Alone:

Young children are happy to have their parents walk with them. Slightly older children (6 to 8) will accept their parent’s company as long as it’s subtle. That means you stay on the sidewalk and don’t go to the door. Let them walk in front of you with their friends or siblings.

By 9 or 10 they want parents to stay home. If they are already experienced walking in the neighbourhood by going to school, the homes of friends or the local store this is easier.

You won’t want her to go out alone. So have her plan to go with friends you trust. Then talk to the other parents so the children they are out with have the same limits and expectations. It’s much too confusing if each child has different rules and expectations. Jennifer’s Mom says they can go six blocks in each direction but Madison’s folks say they can only go east and west but the streets to the north are too busy. Which rules will the kids follow? So plan a route with the group of kids and their parents. Take into account the blocks you consider are most likely to be welcoming to kids. Let them know they should only approach houses with outside lights turned on.

I think it’s a great idea to plan a route that has the children check in at one of their homes part way through their walk. You can check their candy, they can warm up and gab excitedly about the experience so far and use the bathroom

One advantage we have with today’s kids is that at least one of them will have a phone so you know that if they have a problem they can call, and being that they are in your neighbourhood they won’t be far away.

The Biggest Source of Danger:

Fireworks and firecrackers are a major problem.

In the first place children do not understand that they do burn. They treat them as toys and they are not. They take them apart and put the gunpowder into pipes creating dangerous weapons. Make sure you talk to your kids about the dangers associated with firecrackers.

If you are going to be setting off fireworks for the kids take all the necessary precautions and ensure that your kids see how careful you are. When they see that you respect the dangers and are careful, they will understand the need for care.

Once you have prepared your kids for a safe holiday, relax and enjoy this one night of magic and mystery.

What Else Is Happening?

Parenting Today would like to invite you to take advantage of a few upcoming trips. While I am in your community, let’s see what work we can do together to help the parents in your workplace or neighbourhood. You might be thinking of a public workshop in your region, a parent conference through your schools or maybe Beyond Childcare would be perfect for your workplace.

I am pleased that some of you have decided to take advantage of my trip to Ottawa just before National Child Day, which is November 20, 2010. I still have some time around that trip, so if you are looking for a professional development event, Beyond Childcare program, or a speaker for your meeting or conference get in touch.

While I’m in Ontario, I will also have some time in the Toronto area. The schedule for this trip is still flexible so look at your calendar and see what might work for you.

I’ll be in Montreal in early December and would love to work with you then.

Have you visited ParentingToday1 on You Tube? I will be adding more segments. What tips and advice would you like to see?

And, I’m working on a trip to Central Alberta in the spring. Stay tuned for more information.

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