A mindful Halloween means maximizing fun and reducing stress for kids, adults, and teachers. Personalize your Halloween experience by taking a moment to consider your child’s needs. You know your child best; if they do not do well in noisy situations, don’t schedule trick-or-treating with a large group. Instead, arrange an outing with just a friend or two. The following tips can help you to look at Halloween through mindful eyes.
Costumes: Dressing up for Halloween is different for everyone. Some people love elaborate costumes that require a lot of planning, while others prefer to keep it simple. If your child has sensory issues, comfort is a priority.
- Consider costumes a size larger than normal to make sure there is room for warm clothes underneath.
- Shoes that come with the costume are usually uncomfortable. If your child insists on wearing costume shoes, bring an alternate pair with you. Blisters can make anyone cranky.
- Some costume ideas are adorable but not very practical. When choosing costumes, think about what it would be like to walk around in it for hours. A comfortable child is a calmer child.
- Remember that your vision for your child’s costume may be entirely different from their vision. Allow them the autonomy to make their own selection. Opportunities for your child to make decisions help to strengthen their self-esteem. Conversely, if you are not able to provide the exact costume your child wants, work together exploring alternatives.
Trick-or-Treating, Parties, and Events: Halloween activities often take place the week leading up to October 31. Limit the number of events to a reasonable amount that support your child’s needs for ample rest and downtime.
- Set expectations for the evening’s activities before any distractions take over. Make especially clear, how long you will trick-or-treat for and what your rules for eating candy are.
- Eat a healthy meal before leaving the house. A full belly is your best defense against indulging in too much candy and will prevent hangry meltdowns.
- Trick-or-treat earlier in the evening, especially if your child is afraid of masks or costumes. Halloween costumes tend to get scarier as the night goes on.
- Know when it’s time to go home. Staying out after your child is exhibiting signs of exhaustion or overstimulation is a recipe for disaster.
- There are a lot of family-friendly events in communities for those who do not want to trick-or-treat by going door to door. Look into community events at your local grocery stores, malls, parks, senior centers, nature centers, botanical gardens, aquariums, and zoos.
School: Halloween week brings extra challenges for teachers. Their classroom is filled with children that are excited, exhausted, and have been eating candy for days. Remind your children that school can be fun on holidays, but they still need to behave and follow the rules.
- Keep bedtime within an hour or so of your child’s usual time.
- Only allow a reasonable amount of candy (or non at all) to be eaten at night.
- Put the candy away in a place where they can’t get to it.
- Check school bags for stow away candy that should not be going to school.
- Consider donating extra candy to the school or teacher. They will often use it for rewards and other events coming up in the school year.
Halloween doesn’t have to look the same for every family. Holidays are an opportunity to get your children involved in creating memories and establishing new family traditions. Maybe your children want to stay home and pass out candy this year. Perhaps you want to celebrate by baking a pumpkin pie, collecting leaves on a hike, or spending a cozy night inside watching movies. With open communication and flexibility, you can create a mindful Halloween that keeps everyone stress free!
Lori Lite is the founder of Stress Free Kids and has authored 12 books. Stress Free Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children Build Self-Esteem, Manage Stress, and Reduce Anxiety has been named a Best Stress Management Book of All Time. Angry Octopus Color Me Happy, Color Me Calm has been awarded the Mom’s Choice Award. Lori’s content is featured in hundreds of media outlets, including CBS News, CNN Living, WebMD, The New York Times, Family Circle, and Parenting Magazine.