It’s getting to be that time of year again. The weather is changing and school supplies in your local department store are being replaced by all things fall. Scarecrows and pumpkins glare out at you as you walk down the aisle and Halloween costumes seem to be everywhere. Obviously, from the wide range of costumes available in stores – it seems that this children’s holiday of trick or treating is something people never grow out of. Yet many parents wonder, when are their children too old to trick or treat? Is there a magic birthday that seemingly puts an end to all the antics of childhood, including going door to door to get candy from neighbors?
Even worse, is the fact that many people seem to be offended (or frightened) by young adults and pre-teens knocking on the door hovering over toddlers in princess dresses to get a free hand out of Halloween candy? Some are rude to the kids that appear too old to be trick or treating, turning them away. Others, hand out the candy with a begrudged huff wondering where the hell parental discretion has gone.
This dilemma has not gone unnoticed. In many towns across the United States, mayors and governments have been considering passing down laws that children over the age of 12 will not be allowed to trick or treat. The problem of course is enforcement, and in many cases, there are 10 and 11 year olds that look much older than their birthday suggests. Even so, kids over this age limit would be given fines, up to $100, if caught accepting candy from behind the mask of a super hero. And parents seem to be split about the issue.
Many parents feel that children should be allowed to be children as long as they want to be. The hard-core truth is that the fancies of childhood disappear all too quickly on their own, so why push the issue? There are certainly plenty of pre-teens in this world that want to trick or treat each year, and feel no shame in accepting candy during this holiday.
Is it really okay for society to decide that they have to grow up faster?
Another issue is the fact that many parents don’t regulate their children’s behaviors and don’t really care or have suitable rules about trick or treating in place in their homes. Then, these children go out and cause mischief, showing up at doors with little more than eye shadow as a costume, and ruin the entire holiday for the rest of the kids. Mandating ages helps to eliminate this problem, and ends the guesswork of deciding if your child is too old or not to go out Halloweening.
And sure, the only a reason that plenty of high schoolers would want to trick or treat is to score some free snacks and engage in the whimsy and trickery of the holiday itself. These children, out haunting the streets and up to no good, should definitely not be deemed acceptable, especially when so many toddlers are out as well. But you have to be honest for a moment. Think back to your own middle school (even high school) days. Did you trick or treat? Sure, a door or two may have been slammed in your face or some wise cracking neighbor may have given you shaving cream and a razor instead of candy, but you and your friends went anyways, right? It was all about having fun.
Most communities do set up fun activities for older children on Halloween night. And if your child doesn’t see the harm in dressing up and going out and you are concerned that they are either too old, or will face criticism (or teasing) then you might be keen to host a Halloween party of your own. This way your child will still get to celebrate Halloween, but will not be faced with judgment from others, including neighborhood households who may think your child is too old to be out trick or treating. This solution also works well because it allows your child to celebrate the holiday in a child like manner that is appropriate for their age.
Truth be told, most kids decide on their own when they are too old to trick or treat. You might be surprised that as early as 5th grade, the bulk of kids begin deciding on their own, that they are too old to indulge in the trickery or Halloween. For parents, this can come as a complete shock and surprise and a major indicator that your child is growing up. Some parents push the envelope as far as possible, hoping that they can squeeze yet one more year out of the infamous dress up. If your child does not want to participate, then you know that they are too old to trick or treat, and you should not force them to participate. The bottom line is that the decision should be made by both parents and children, utilize common sense and be based on what is deemed acceptable in the locale that you live in.
But before you ban your child from gracing the streets in costume, and before you get frustrated that a bigger kid showed up at your door to collect candy, think about this. Children are only children once. 12, 13, even 14 years old are truly not that old. Many kids need an excuse like Halloween, to reconnect with that magical feeling that only exists in the world of a child. If your child wants to participate in good, wholesome fun – is there really anything wrong with that? Before you know it, these kids will be in the real world, facing real world challenges and will be stricken from the world of whimsy, magic and make believe.