Parents can’t get a break from sweet temptations luring their kids: Sacks of mini-chocolate bars, candy corn and suckers have been on candy aisles for weeks, long before Halloween.
Oct. 31 falls on a Wednesday this year, a school night, so it’s sure to cut back on the fun of goblins and ghosts while creating a miserable Thursday morning for teachers. The best way to celebrate? Get your kids involved in decorating your home, throw a neighborhood potluck party the weekend before and make simple costumes available for pretend play throughout the month – and year.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a brief, easy-to-remember Halloween safety checklist in three categories:
• Prevent fires and burns: Select flame-retardant materials when buying or making costumes and accessories. Choose battery-operated candles and lights instead of open-flame candles.
• See and be seen: Trim costumes and outerwear in reflective tape. Carry flashlights or glow sticks when trick-or-treating.
• Adjust costumes to ensure a good fit: Long costumes can drag and cause falls. Secure hats, scarves and masks to ensure adequate ventilation and visibility.
Another safety tip: Discreetly attach your child’s home phone number inside the costume.
Beyond safety, one of the basics that can get overlooked is a child’s developmental stage. Before an event, whether it’s Halloween, a first trip to an action-packed movie or a visit to Santa, little kids need to know what to expect. They look to their parents and caregivers to ease them into their comfort zone. Masks or makeup that cover an adult’s face are particularly alarming to young kids.
If your child doesn’t want to go up to a neighbor’s house and say “trick or treat,” fine. There’s always next year. Or three houses may be enough for your preschooler; call it a night and wait for the princesses and pirates to come to your home. If your darling toddler doesn’t want to wear that adorable ladybug costume you picked out, forget it.
Unfortunately, Halloween is a potentially dangerous time for children with peanut and food-dye allergies. Alternatives to giving out Reese’s, Snickers and other nut-filled chocolate treats include stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils, mini Play-Doh packages or lip balm.
A new kind of tattoo arriving in time for Halloween is Glitter Toos (glittertoos.com/shop/halloween), which are made of nontoxic materials. From the glitter to the glue, the elements have been formulated to be safe for the skin, the company says.
Until about age 12, a child’s pedestrian skills are limited by his size, coordination and developmental stage, according to the CDC. Younger children may lack the ability to rapidly cross the street, and their short stature limits visibility to drivers. Also, children have reduced attention spans, localize sounds poorly and lack impulse control.
Halloween night puts all these skills to the test. A child who cannot wait for his group and runs across the street between cars is at risk. Safe Kids USA, a nationwide network of organizations working to prevent unintentional childhood injury – the leading cause of death and disability for children ages 1 to 14 – recommends the following safety tips.
• Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
• Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Walk on direct routes with as few street crossings as possible.
• Each time you cross a street, look left, right and left again.
Betsy Flagler is a mother and preschool teacher. Email her at email@example.com or call 704-236-9510.