Parents, Halloween is right around the corner, and most kids are giddily anticipating a fun night of costumes, trick or treating and eating way too much candy. Now is a good time to think about safely enjoying the activities the evening has in store.
Halloween safety is especially relevant for kids with ADHD who typically need extra support with impulse control, emotional regulation, and pacing.
Younger kids may just need more supervision than usual. Older kids will benefit from a Halloween safety game plan to which you both agree ahead of time.
3 ADHD-friendly Halloween safety tips
Here are a few practical tips to ensure your child has a delightfully spooky and safe Halloween.
1. Mindfully choose activities
You know your child best, so choose the age-appropriate Halloween activity that best suits your child. Kids with ADHD often become overwhelmed or over-excited in stimulating environments. This can sometimes lead to hyperactivity and other times can cause kids to withdraw.
So, consider whether going to a neighbor’s party may be too much for your child.
Will trick or treating be better with or without a friend? Perhaps your child will have more fun passing out candy at home instead of being out and about. There is no one right way to celebrate Halloween.
Remember, whatever activity you choose, time-box it to avoid your child with ADHD becoming overstimulated. And as always, remain flexible and prepare to make adjustments if plans don’t work out the way you envisioned.
2. Focus on physical safety
It’s easy for your child to get swept up in Halloween festivities. There’s a lot going on and it’s all too easy to make quick decisions without thinking them through first.
Remember, kids with ADHD have a hard time with impulse control. When trick or treating, they may run out onto the street without checking for cars or run off to chase a friend without telling you.
Talk with your child about Halloween safety rules and expectations before heading out the door. Then, ask your child to repeat these rules back to you to make sure they heard you loud and clear.
If your child is younger and needs supervision, be ready to keep an extra close eye on them. If they are older and plan on going out with friends, come up with a Halloween safety agreement together in advance. Discuss where and with whom they will be, what time they’ll come home, and parental contact.
It’s important to decide what your child should do if they want to come home early or if they get separated from their peer group. Keep the lines of communication open and reach out to other parents for additional channels of communication and supervision.
3. Pace and don’t overstimulate
For many kids, Halloween is a competitive sport, one where the goal is collecting the most candy in the shortest amount of time. Left to their own devices, kids bolt from one house to the next until they’re exhausted or their treat bag becomes too heavy to carry.
Kids with ADHD need to pace themselves so they don’t take on too much and burn out. Overstimulation and exhaustion in kids with ADHD are safety risks as they can cause your child to let down their guard and be less careful. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
Rushing through the evening means they may miss out on the fun of being with friends, admiring decorations, and enjoying themselves. Also, saying “Hello” and “Thank you” at each house they visit will help them slow down and be more present.
In addition, setting some guidance around how many pieces of candy your child can have each day and when they can have it will help them pace themselves.
As tempting as it is to overindulge, eating a little at a time means the candy stash will last longer and the dreaded post-Halloween stomach ache will probably be avoided.
Oh, and about all that candy
Some schools and dentists collect candy donations. Encourage your child to give away some of their candy as an act of kindness and generosity toward others.
Some families have their kids swap some of their candy for a toy or activity. This way the child still gets to have fun but without all that sugar. Talk with your child and come up with your own family tradition for excess treats.
However you chose to celebrate, remember have fun, and make fun-filled memories. I wish you and your family an enjoyable and safe Halloween!
Dr. Sharon Saline, Psy.D., is an international lecturer and workshop facilitator and has focused her work on ADHD, anxiety, learning differences, and mental health challenges and their impact on the school and family dynamics for more than 30 years.
This article originally appeared on YourTango