by Phoenix A. Desertsong, Staff Writer, Healer & Advocate
It seems like every year that older and older kids are still out trick-or-treating on Halloween, well after the younger kids have already come by. These tweens and teens are often trick-or-treating late into the night, often without adults with them. For many different reasons, including safety, many parents are asking themselves, “Who’s Too Old for Halloween?”
The Halloween Age Debate
People are only too happy to give out candy to preschool, kindergarten and elementary kids who have their cute and often creative Halloween costumes. But while they often have their parents, older siblings, or guardians with them, the tweens and teens often don’t have anyone watching them. Without supervision, they often roam the streets well into the night.
There’s definitely quite a debate about letting older kids roam the street late into the Halloween night. There are parents who are only happy to let their older children enjoy their Halloween costumes and the fun that goes with trick-or-treating. But other parents have the concern that teens, who love to experiment, might be out doing a lot more than that. While alcohol, drugs, and sex aren’t necessarily in the picture, there are plenty of other reasons that can get teens in trouble without supervision.
The real concern is that there are many strange and unsavory characters out and about on Halloween. While you may not see them walking around, many neighborhoods have them. There are lurkers who often sit in cars and can pounce on unsuspecting children without notice. This is perhaps the greatest argument against letting kids go out on Halloween night.
There’s also the problem of the “mob mentality” that often leads to kids doing things that they would never do on their own. As Halloween is famously a night of causing trouble, even the most well-behaved kids may find themselves doing things that could get them breaking the law or putting themselves in great danger.
Should Your Pre-Teens and Teens Choose an Alternative to Trick-or-Treating?
The obvious solution to the Halloween age debate is to supervise your trick-or-treating children, no matter how old they are. Of course, most teens don’t want their parents lurking behind them, as that may be a source of embarrassment for them. There are ways for your older children to still enjoy their Halloween costumes and night out, however.
Some parents let their older kids dress up in their Halloween costumes but tell them that they need to stay home and hand out the candy. This isn’t always the best solution, though, as you do want your kids to have fun.
The better solution to that is to host a Halloween party where your kids can have their friends over in a safe environment. This is a much better compromise than essentially giving your Kids a chore on what’s supposed to be a fun night. With a party, your kids can choose a theme and be creative, without all the wandering about. There’s also harvest parties at local churches and community centers. You could also visit haunted houses or go on hayrides as a family.
What if Your Kids Just Want to Go Trick-Or-Treating
If your kids really insist on still trick-or-treating, there are safety precautions that they can take. Be sure that they keep themselves highly visible with things like glow-in-the-dark costumes or accessories. It’s also a good idea to have someone watching your children who they wouldn’t be embarrassed about having follow them around, such as a family friend or relative.
Really, there’s no age limit on trick-or-treating. Yes, there are plenty of alternative, but you want your kids to be able to choose their own activity on Halloween night. Present the alternatives, but ultimately, try to let your child do what they want to do, within reason and while taking the right safety precautions. Halloween is about having fun, and it’s just good sense to stay safe, no matter what age your kids are.
Trick-or-treat safety is not the only thing for parent to think about this Halloween. Choosing safe Halloween costumes for kids is also vital. Sure, that fuzzy bear costume may look sweet on your little one. But is it safe? How can you tell? From one parent to the next, here are some safety tips to keep in mind when choosing your child's next costume.
Check for sharp edges. Before ever putting that costume on your child, check for things that may scrape or scratch. Sharp edges can most commonly be found on masks and other costume accessories. But also check the costume itself for sharp edges and other pieces that jut out.
Test for allergies to latex and other masks. The last thing you want on Halloween is to rush your child to the ER over a reaction. Do an allergy test at least 48 hours prior to your child wearing his Halloween costume. Check each mask label for the manufacturer's instructions on testing for allergies. General instructions will likely include exposing a small area of the skin to the material for a certain amount of time.
Test for makeup and accessory allergies. Face makeup and other Halloween costume accessories may also cause an allergic reaction. You might avoid face makeup and certain accessories, use hypoallergenic face makeup, or do a skin allergy test at least 48 hours in advance.
How well can your child see through masks and around hats? Tiny holes for the eyes are just one no-no when it comes to Halloween masks. Be sure your child can see fully when wearing any hats, masks, and face accessories. If your child cannot see side to side and directly in front of him without rotating his head, that's a bad sign.
Is the costume weather-appropriate? Sure, that fairy princess costume is adorable. But if it's snowing outside, your child better also have some cute warm clothing on top or underneath. On that same token, if your child is wearing a thick bear costume and it's 80 degrees outside, there better be some air filtration and/or fans inside of it.
Pay attention to length. Tripping over a costume might be funny. But it can also be quite painful. Be sure your child's costume is no longer than 6 inches above the ankles to prevent accidents on stairs and while walking or dancing.
Use appropriate accompanying footwear. Tired after a long day at work? You know that feeling your feet get? Help prevent that in your child on Halloween by making sure footwear is appropriate. Try finding shoes that are both comfortable and appropriate to the costume. Slippers and other dress-up shoes can be bought in a larger size to slip over more comfortable footwear.
Be sure costumes are bright, glowing, or have lighted accessories. Traffic can be busy on Halloween with all the activities going on. Make sure your kids are bright enough to be seen from a good distance.
Check faux weaponry for real dangers. True, these are supposed to be fake weapons. But that doesn't mean they aren't still dangerous. Look for sharp edges, removable parts, and other potential hazards to kids before sending them off to have fun on Halloween.
While browsing the internet a few years ago, as well as local department stores for ideas on Halloween costumes, I noticed a frightening trend. While the costumes remained scary, ghoulish, and otherwise Halloween-themed, I noticed the costumes for little girls were overly revealing.
The skirt and dress portions of the costumes had gotten much shorter. Many cat costumes for children resembled the revealing or sexy ones made for adults. Witches were sporting miniskirts and minidresses that hauntingly revealed too much.
I can understand that children enjoy looking like adults, but does that mean they should be dressing this revealing? I’m not talking about a normal-looking short skirt. I’m talking about dresses and skirts that are not just above the knees, but are mid-thigh and higher. There are even costumes that look like sexy women's lingerie that are targeted to and sized for very young girls.
By the descriptions of the costumes above, it might appear that I am describing costumes for teenagers. Wrong. I am describing costumes designed for children 6 years old and up. Major retailers, one of which I am generally very fond of, were even carrying these seemingly inappropriate costumes for little girls.
At first, I wanted to blame this retailer for carrying these costumes, if they can be called that, as this was my first stop during my costume search. Then, with the next stop, then the next, and thereafter, I realized these were everywhere. I saw many little girls princess costumes that were made extremely short. The Disney Princess costumes were not this way at that time and thankfully, were widely available. There were also unisex costumes, like dogs and other animals that were not drawing the line. So, all may not be lost.
After my terrifying search at retailers big and small, I decided to search online for an appropriate costume, but again, I was horrified as my internet search revealed the same results, at some times, even worse. Afraid of the trend I'd found, I searched and searched to find a site that did not offer any of these costumes. You would think my search terms were affecting my search, but not so. They were simple and short, such as "Halloween costumes for kids". Search after search turned up so many inappropriate costumes for girls.
After that, I determined that I would continue to design and make my children's costumes, as usual. I did find many costume accessories that were much more appropriate than the costumes. There were plenty of princess crowns, wands, false teeth, capes, swords, various masks, and many other accessories. So, indeed, all was not lost.
I was just left to wonder who came up with the idea that children needed to dress up in costumes that reveal too much. Was it parents? Perhaps it was the retail stores. Maybe it was even the manufacturers of the costumes. If the parents agreed to this, that would be more frightening than the costumes.
UPDATE: As the years passed, I thought maybe the situation would improve. However, instead it has worsened. Yes, non-revealing costumes can still be found. But unfortunately, the sexy ones are growing increasingly popular as the time passes by. What message are we sending retailers when we allow this and even buy these costumes? More importantly, what are we teaching our children?
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans Content Community. Services include ordained soul therapy and healing ministry, business success coaching, business success services, handcrafted healing jewelry, ethereal and anointing oils, altar and spiritual supplies and services, handcrafted healing beauty products, and more!
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