Before going trick or treating, go over the rules with your children. Because it's an exciting night and emotions can affect clear thinking and "remembering," go over them several times.
Here's a website that lists some rules in kids' language: http://www.halloweenmagazine.com/rules.html and has an interactive "game" to reinforce understanding. Add rules as fit your circumstances.
The rules should cover the following areas:
If you were a pedophile, wouldn't Halloween night come to mind as an opportunity? Describe to your child what a "stranger" is. Caution them to avoid strangers, stick to the agreed route, and not to go inside any houses. Discuss that the "offer" may be enticing and must be ignored (see example on website).
More children are killed by cars on Halloween night than any other night of the year. Make sure their mask allows visibility and their costume doesn't trip them. Review "stop, look and listen" and "walk don't run". Remind them that a parking lot has moving cars in it too, to stick to sidewalks and, and to cross only at intersections - in a group, not straggling.
3. SAFETY IN NUMBERS
Go with your child if he's young. Older children should go in pairs or 3s.
4. REMEMBERING WHEN IT'S HARD TO
The rules are no good if your child forgets them. This is a good time to go over Emotional Intelligence 101 - paying attention and thinking even though there's emotional distraction. Find examples the week before that can be learning opportunities.
5. PEER PRESSURE
What you said holds, no matter what the other child wants to do, or what they say their mother said was OK. (Good practice for peers who do drugs.)
6. FOOD SAFETY
Your child must return all candy and food to you for inspection before they eat it. Go over the "no matters" - no matter how good it looks, no matter how hungry they get, no matter if Billy says he's sure it's OK.
7. FIRE SAFETY
Those luminaria, lanterns and jack-o-lanterns with live candles in them are a fire hazard (and can be very enticing). Point out dangers. Flame retardant costumes are of course advised.
This ranges from saying "thank you" for treats, to not going to houses that don't have their lights on, to respecting the property of others.
9. COSTUME SAFETY
They must be able to walk in their costume, and to see through their headgear or mask. They should have a tote bag that's manageable (think of the disruption if they have a bag that tears). They should carry a flashlight and/or wear lighted sneakers.
10. SAFETY SAFETY
And, last but not least, what should your child do if he gets lost or in danger? Run away and scream if someone follows them or tries to force them into a car. If lost, ask a woman with a child for help. How to dial 911 at home and on the cell phone. Go over what to do in different scenarios.
For a comprehensive list of safety tips for a large range of situations, go here http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/child safety.html , the US National Library of Medicine.
About The Author: ©Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc . I train and certify EQ coaches and offer individual coaching, Internet courses and ebooks around emotional intelligence for your personal and professional development. Career, relationships, transitions, resilience. Mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for free ezine.
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