How to Keep Halloween Fun, Not Spooky

Dressing up in costumes, playing make-believe, and downing unhealthy amounts of candy are the hallmarks of a happy Halloween — for older kids and adults, that is. For children under five, the spectacle of October 31 can be overwhelming at best — and terrifying at worst. Let’s keep this day of witches, goblins, and ghosts spook-free and prevent our kids from having candy meltdowns.

Halloween Kids

As a grown-up you may ask yourself, “What’s the big deal? It’s not real.” But, Halloween can be scary for little kids! Your doorbell rings and it’s a big, hairy monster asking for candy. Talk about a nightmare come true for anyone, let alone a young child who can’t yet tell the difference between real and make-believe. Here are easy ways to reassure your child that he is safe in sometimes sudden and scary situations. BOO!

What to do if your child is scared:

Don’t push your child to look at something scary. If he turns away give him a hug and say, “It’s just a Halloween decoration. You don’t have to look if you don’t want to. It’s pretend.” When parents treat their child’s nervousness directly it acknowledges the child’s feelings, and reassures him that he’s safe and loved.

What to do if the family clashes on costumes:


Hey, Mom and Dad, remember this holiday is about your kids and not about you so you may just need to lower your costume expectations. So what if little Susie decides she’s going to plop on a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, call herself a mouse and be done with it. Support her creativity and feel thrilled nothing is required of you in the process.

And if your teenager wants to go as a sexy nurse come to a middle ground by buttoning up and lowering the hemline and get through the unfortunate choice with compromise. In this parenting gig we sometimes just have to let stuff go… The great news is, there will be future Halloweens.

Follow these top safety tips for trick-or-treating:

Halloween SweetsNot to be a Debbie Downer, but, children are twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year — safety is no joke.

To Do List for Parents:

Decorate costumes and candy bags with reflective tape.

Make sure costumes and masks fit well. Better yet, because masks can obstruct vision (and often kids just don’t want to wear them because it’s freaky putting something over their head and they will end up fighting you in the process) try using non-toxic face paint instead.

To Do List for Kids:

Carry mini flashlights so you can see and be seen by drivers.

If you are under the age of 12 you should not trick or treat alone.

If you are old enough to be out without supervision, discuss appropriate neighborhoods to visit, make sure you always stay with your group of friends and stay in touch with your parents by cell phone.

How to keep trick-or-treating under control:

For your family to have the best Halloween experience be a proactive mom and set up the night right with your gang. Talk with your kids about how long you’re going to trick-or-treat. Start early when there’s still daylight. They may think that’s lame, but I say it’s smart because it’s less crowded and there won’t be mass hysteria racing up to each and every house. My favorite Halloween mom hack is to pre-order pizza to arrive as soon as we get back home so the kids fill up on real food before they go nuts on candy. Then, as we are walking back home I discuss WITH my children how much candy they get to eat and what we are going to do with it after the holiday.

So what do we do with all that candy?

A few simple ideas are:

Freeze it for future cookie baking.

Make cute bags and donate to family homeless shelters.

Donate it to your dentist. Some dentists will pay your kids cold hard cash for their candy. That sounds like a great incentive to give it up.

Halloween Fun

Written by: Eirene Heidelberger is a Chicago-based parent coach and a mom to three boys. Her business, GIT Mom, is dedicated to helping parents Get It Together so they have more time for the activities they most enjoy. When Moms have the right tools to create family balance, they have the freedom to create happy mommy time for themselves. Happy confident moms raise happy confident kids! You can reach her at Mom.

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