Your super-mature, mom-and-dad-I’m-almost-an-adult- stop-treating-me-like-a-child! teenager wants to go trick or treating this year, and you’re skeptical.
With good reason.
But before you dismiss the idea out of hand, consider this: under all that independence, under all that “differentiation” – a.k.a. the developmental process of defining their own identity aside from you – your teen might still want to be a kid. Even though that’s the last thing they’ll ever admit, that might just be what’s going on here.
Sure, maybe they want to go out and get in trouble.
But maybe – just maybe – what they’re really after is squeezing just a few more hours of childhood.
That’s not so bad, now is it?
No, it’s not.
We say let them go – but not without reading these five suggestions first.
Five Tips for Parents on Teen Trick-or-Treating
- Know your kid. If your teen has gotten in trouble for shenanigans like smashing pumpkins, egging houses, or rolling houses with toilet paper, unsupervised trick-or-treating should be a no-go. If your kid has no history of this kind of behavior, then we say let them go for it.
- Know their friends. If your teen plans to go with kids you know to be excessively mischievous, or kids that have gotten into trouble for the things mentioned in (1) above, then it’s a no-go. If your teen plans to go with kids who have no history of that kind of behavior, we say let them go for it.
- Know the plan. Your teen should be able to tell you exactly how they expect the night to go. Vague answers like “I’m not sure who’s coming” and “We haven’t decided whose neighborhood yet” should be immediately disqualifying.
- Put eyes on them. In the best-case scenario, you should see all the kids involved, all their costumes, and put on your best authoritative parent face for all of them to see before they head off candy-collecting. Meaning they should get that you support their independence, but if they get in trouble, they won’t love the outcome you dole out.
- Make a hard ending time. Nail down as many details as you can, especially the ending point. Trick-or-treating is a 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm thing. There’s no reason for teens to be out on the streets unsupervised on Halloween after 9:00 pm.
Angus is a writer from Atlanta, GA who writes about behavioral health, adolescent development, education, and mindfulness practices like yoga, tai chi, and meditation.