Halloween is just around the corner, and with it comes the annual question: what age is too old for trick-or-treating? The debate continues year after year, and I often hear, “Teens shouldn’t be trick-or-treating.” As a mother of six tweens/teens, I firmly believe that there is no age limit to enjoying the holiday spirit.
In fact, to those people, I say, get over it.
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that Halloween is just for little kids. But the truth is, teenagers are still growing up and exploring their identities. Dressing up in costumes and going door-to-door for treats is a fun and harmless way for them to do just that. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love a good piece of candy?
Of course, there are some concerns that come with older kids trick-or-treating. Some worry that they might be too scary or intimidating to younger children. Others are concerned that teens might be disruptive or cause damage to property; from what I know of the teens who come through my house daily, these fears are unfounded.
First, not all teens are scary or intimidating. In fact, many of them choose costumes that are fun or silly rather than spooky. And even if they do opt for a scarier look, it’s important to remember that Halloween is all about playing pretend. Just because someone is dressed as a zombie or a vampire doesn’t mean they are actually dangerous.
Here are a few things to remember about tweens and teens going out for Halloween:
-We adults spend so much time complaining about how quickly kids grow up, and then when they try to have fun trick-or-treating, we berate them for it.
-Hormones do crazy things. You can have a 12-year-old who looks like a Man-Boy at your door because he’s tall and needs a shave. But really, it’s hard to tell how old these kids are. Before we get all judgmental, we need to remember that tweens and teens come in all shapes and sizes.
-And speaking about being judgmental, many bigger kids in the special needs community love Halloween. You don’t know much about the kids who come to your door, so don’t assume they’re being greedy. They may just be special kids enjoying the fun.
-Is it really that painful to hand over a fun-sized chocolate bar? Is it really worth all the stress and negativity for the price of a lollipop? Just smile and hand over the candy.
-Every kid out there trick-or-treating has their own parents. Let that kid’s parents worry about whether their kids are too old to participate. You don’t have to make it your business.
What to consider if your teens want to trick-or-treat:
If your teen has approached you and said they want to trick-or-treat and you’re feeling a little skeptical, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:
-You know your kid best. Are they a troublemaker? If your kid has no history of mischief or bad behavior, then let them have fun!
-It’s probably more likely that they’re just trying to hang onto a fun tradition they enjoyed as a kid. We all complain that kids grow up too fast; they may feel this, too.
-Find out who they’re going with, and if there are no red flags, then allow them to have fun!
-Make sure you know who they are with and where they’ll be. (Here are some great safety tips for teens and tweens).
Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t some guidelines teens should follow when going trick-or-treating.
Here are some tips for your tweens and teens to remember when heading out trick-or-treating:
-Try to avoid overly scary or violent costumes. Never purposely jump out or spook others.
-Be respectful of younger children and not push past them in line; what a great opportunity to be a good role model!
-If they’re going out in a group, it’s important to be mindful of their behavior and not do anything that might appear intimidating. Smaller groups are probably best.
-Just because you can stay out later doesn’t mean you should. Once the streets start to clear and parents turn off lights it’s time to go. Many households are struggling to get little ones to sleep, and they won’t appreciate you ringing the doorbell past 9 p.m.
Halloween is a chance for them to be creative and express themselves, and it’s a fun way to bond with friends and family and be a part of their community. Plus, with so many other pressures and stresses in their lives, it’s nice to have a night where they can just let loose and have some offline fun. Instead of judging others, let’s focus on having fun and spreading some spooky holiday cheer.
Whether they’re young or old, scary or silly, let’s give them a reason to smile and enjoy the night. After all, it’s just candy.
A version of this post originally appeared on yummymummyclub.ca