Most parents have fond memories of scampering through their neighborhood on Halloween night dressed as a fairy princess or superhero. For a toddler experiencing Halloween for the first time however, this magical holiday can provoke a range of emotions including fear, insecurity, and confusion. In your enthusiasm for the festivities, don’t ignore their feelings. Take the time to be certain your child’s first Halloween is a positive experience:
• Highlight the festive aspects of the holiday. Decorate your house in Halloween colors without emphasizing frightening images such as monsters, tombstones, or ghouls.
• To establish a sense of continuity, discuss Halloween as you remember as a child. Pull out the photo album and the home movies, if you have any.
• A few days before Halloween, have a dress rehearsal. By putting on a costume, your toddler will better understand the holiday. If your child is not ready to put on a costume, don’t pressure him.
• Costumes for toddlers work best when they’re created out of something they feel comfortable in, such as character pajamas or favorite dress-up outfits. Children this age are unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality, so scary masks are not usually a good idea.
• Most toddlers are more comfortable celebrating Halloween during the daylight hours. If possible, organize a parade or party for the littlest spooks in the neighborhood.
• Be sure your child remembers to say “thank you” for his treats.
After you roam the neighborhood with your kids gathering tons of candy, the bargaining begins. How much candy should they be allowed to eat? What’s fair and reasonable? Be sure your children are aware of your policy prior to trick-or-treating, and stick with it once it’s been established. Here are a couple of options that might help you control the amount of candy consumed in your house:
• Take away the candy bags when your kids return from trick-or-treating, and ration out a limited number of pieces daily. This takes work on your part (especially dealing with the begging and the whining), but at least you won’t have to worry about your kids overdosing on sugar.
• Permit your children to keep a portion of their haul and give the rest away. Take the candy to a senior citizens, center, office building, or charitable organization. Your children might complain, but with your steady guidance, they’ll probably relinquish their stash without a scene.
HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE HALLOWEEN!