Parents, Halloween is just around the corner and most children are already looking forward to a fun evening of costumes, trick or treating and way too many sweets. Now is a good time to start thinking about how to safely enjoy the activities the evening has in store.
Halloween safety is especially relevant for children with ADHD, who typically need extra support with impulse control, emotional regulation, and pacing.
Younger children may just need more supervision than usual. Older children will benefit from a Halloween safety game plan that you both agree to in advance.
3 ADHD-Friendly Halloween Safety Tips
Here are a few handy tips to ensure your child has a delightfully spooky and safe Halloween.
1. Choose activities carefully
You know your child best, so choose the age-appropriate Halloween activity that best suits your child. Children with ADHD are often overwhelmed or overstimulated in stimulating environments. This can sometimes lead to hyperactivity and sometimes cause children to become withdrawn.
So consider whether attending a neighbor’s party might be too much for your child.
Will trick or treating be better with or without a friend? Maybe your child enjoys giving out candy at home more than going out. There is no one right way to celebrate Halloween.
Remember, whatever activity you choose, time it to avoid overstimulating your child with ADHD. As always, stay flexible and prepare to make adjustments if plans don’t work out the way you envisioned.
2. Focus on physical security
It’s easy for your child to get drawn into Halloween celebrations. There’s a lot going on and it’s all too easy to make quick decisions without thinking them through first.
Remember that children with ADHD have difficulties with impulse control. When trick-or-treating, they can run out into the street without looking for cars, or run off to chase a friend without telling you.
Before you head out the door, talk to your child about Halloween safety rules and expectations. Then ask your child to repeat these rules to you to make sure they heard you loud and clear.
If your child is younger and needs supervision, be prepared to keep an extra close eye on them. If they are older and planning to go out with friends, make a Halloween safety arrangement together in advance. Discuss where and with whom they will be, when they will be home and parental contact.
It is important to decide what to do with your child if they want to come home early or are separated from their age group. Keep 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 where the goal is to collect the most candy in the least amount of time. Left to their own devices, children run from one house to the next until they are exhausted or their treat bag becomes too heavy to carry.
Children with ADHD have to find their rhythm so that they don’t confide too much and burn out. Overstimulation and fatigue in children with ADHD are safety hazards as they can cause your child to lose alert and be less careful. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
When rushing through the evening, they may miss out on the fun of hanging out with friends, admiring decorations, and having a good time. Saying “hello” and “thank you” to every house they visit also helps them slow down and be more present.
In addition, setting some guidelines on how many candies your child can eat each day and when they can have them will help to speed things up.
As tempting as it may be to overeat, eating a little at a time means the candy stash will last longer and that dreaded post-Halloween stomach ache is likely to be avoided.
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Oh, and because of all the candy
Some schools and dentists collect candy donations. Encourage your child to give away some of their candy as a show of kindness and generosity to others.
Some families let their children trade some of their candy for a toy or activity. That way, the kid is still having fun, but without all the sugar. Talk to your child and come up with your own family tradition for superfluous treats.
However you choose to celebrate, remember to have fun and make fun memories. I wish you and your family a happy and safe Halloween!
dr Sharon Saline, Psy.D., is an international lecturer and workshop facilitator and has focused her work for more than 30 years on ADHD, anxiety, learning differences, and mental health issues and their impact on school and family dynamics.
This article was originally published on Dr. Sharon Saline released. Reprinted with permission of the author.