Halloween is a thrilling event for many kids, but it can be overwhelming for those who face challenges with social communication and self-regulation. It can stir up anxiety, confusion, giddiness, and fear. There are many hidden social rules and norms associated with Halloween. Some kids understand hidden rules without explicit teaching and don’t need to be told that ghosts aren’t real and you shouldn’t grab a fistful of candy. Other children, though, need more direct instruction followed by reminders or models to help them learn and remember. Educators and parents can help children enjoy the fun of Halloween with preparation that includes explaining what’s expected and calming fears before the big night. This is called priming and can be used to get ready for any occasion, transition, or even daily routines at home or school. It can be helpful to map it out in writing (see supplementary handout) and role-play for additional practice.
As you prep your child or student for Halloween, here are some basic social rules worth explaining:
- Trick or treating usually begins when the sun starts to go down. People need to get home from work and get prepared before you can go out.
- Generally, 9:00 p.m. is the latest time to knock on doors. If there is no one out in the neighborhood, it is probably time to head home and call it quits.
- It’s important to stay with your parents or in a group.
- There is no need to run from house to house or across the street; there is plenty of candy to go around.
- When trick or treating, take one candy from the bowl and save some for others.
- Saying please and thank you is appreciated on Halloween. Don’t forget, these are your neighbors and they will see you again. It’s important to be nice!
- If the lights are out at a house, don’t knock or ring the bell. The residents are not at home or don’t want to be disturbed.
- It’s never ok to create a mess outside someone’s house using toilet paper, eggs, or anything else.
- Eating all your candy in one night WILL make you sick and leave nothing for you to look forward to the next day.
Feel free to download and share the attached handout made by one of our amazing CW therapists, Jenna Volpe.