Tweens and Halloween can be a tricky topic. Caught in the ‘in-between’ years, it may seem less than obvious how to handle some of the issues that can arise in reference to Halloween. The first major question that needs to be quelled perhaps is whether your tween still wants to celebrate Halloween. When surveyed the majority of tweens will tell you with gusto that they are excited about Halloween. As a parent it brings some relief that although there are many things your tween has now outgrown, Halloween is still at the top of his hit list.
Tween Halloween however, often presents many unforeseen dilemmas. Some common issues with which parents of tweens have to contend include:
1.) Requests to trick or treat without parental supervision.
2.) Costume choices that can/do border on inappropriate.
3.) More interest in tricks rather than treats.
4.) Requests to stay out late (a big concern on a school night).
5.) Disinterest in participating in any part of Halloween including handing out candy to trick or treaters.
The supervision issue seems quite concrete however; the solution may actually be a synthesis of addressing your concerns about safety, and your tweens belief that he is old enough to go it alone with his friends. One easy compromise is to accompany your tween from a far. As long as you have line of sight your concerns about safety can easily be quelled. Another option is to appoint check in times. These days a cell phone can offer many easy solutions. Have your tween text you a code word every half hour for example. If he is hanging with other neighborhood kids, create a neighborhood network of communication. Parents can send out group texts to each other once the kids arrive seeking treats at each house.
Costume choice can get contentious at this age. If you do not agree with your tween’s costume choice, look for areas in which you are open to negotiation. Be clear about your specific concerns. If for example, you feel your daughter’s costume is too provocative, work with her to find ways to make it more appropriate. It is also important to offer an explanation regarding your concerns. Your tween may not agree but at least you are demonstrating your respect for her inquiry.
If you fear you have a prankster in your midst, clearly discuss the rules and expectations regarding ‘tricks’ on All Hallows’ Eve. If you find out that he is planning to do something about which you do not approve, clearly state the consequences. Use this discussion as an opportunity to encourage perspective taking. If for example, your tween is planning to egg or TP (toilet paper) a specific house of a peer and/or teacher, help him understand how his version of fun could cause controversy. Most kids do not want to be identified as mean. It is helps to point out how his version of fun could be perceived as hurtful to his victims.
Curfew is also often quite a concern on Halloween. If you are open to suggestion, discuss the issue before the holiday with other parents. It is helpful if you all decide on a curfew together. This way you can back up your decision. Consistency is key. In other words, keep to your pre-determined limit if you can. Failure to do so may unintentionally send the message that you are likely to concede on other such limits in the future.
Finally, if your tween is no longer into Halloween, don’t distress. Some kids simply outgrow the holiday sooner than others. Interestingly, while your tween may believe she is too old today, once she gets older (e.g. in college) she may re-embrace the holiday’s traditions.
Tween Halloween can be an exciting adventure for both you and your tween. Use the holiday as an opportunity to spend together. Work with your tween to create a great costume. Spend time making outside decorations or creating special sweet treats. When you enjoy this time together a tween Halloween can take on a whole new meaning as you make meaningful memories together.