What can you do to help your child with Attention Deficit Disorder have a happy and healthy Halloween? First, it helps to recognize that some of the traits of ADD, like a lack of impulse control and problems with attending to details, can make Halloween a dangerous night for kids with ADD. Does this mean that they can’t enjoy Halloween and the glorious moments that go with it? Kids with ADD can have a wonderful time on Halloween! It works well with their natural high spirits, energy, and creativity. However, parents need to add structure to the evening to help their little ghosts and goblins stay safe.
Front-load your instructions and expectations for Halloween. Let the kids know in advance what to expect. Rehearse what the night will be like beforehand. This is called priming; it is an effective technique to use for all children, but it works especially well for children who might have problems with making good decisions. Give your family safety rules to your kids early and often. Start several weeks ahead of time. Research shows that people need to be exposed to information about fifteen times before they learn it.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Halloween always came on Friday night? Sadly, it seldom happens that way. If the students have school on the next day, make sure that all things that are school related are completed before they go out. This means that they have finished their homework and any projects that are due. School clothes are laid out and ready for the next day. If they take a lunch from home, have it packed. Bleary-eyed trick-or-treaters have trouble rolling out of bed the next morning. Make it easier for them. Be prepared!
Kids need to know beforehand that they will not have all of the candy at their disposal. Living with kids who are jetting around the house from an overdose of sugar is never fun! Have a supply of ziplock bags for the candy. Let the kids know that you will inspect candy together after they come home. The candy that passes inspection will find a home in several bags. Each bag will contain only the amount of candy that you want them to eat in a day. The bags will be labeled with a permanent marker with the child’s initials. Each child will have their own candy stash. If kids have problems with overeating candy, you might need to take charge of the bags. Let them choose one of their bags each day, at your discretion.
When kids go out for Halloween, they need to be in a group. Make sure that you know who your kids are with. There should be adult supervision for younger children and for some older children’s activities. This person should be an adult that you trust with your child’s life. That’s what you are doing!
Costumes should be age-appropriate and safe to wear. They should be easily seen at night. Kids who have trouble with impulsivity should not carry fake weapons. It’s too easy to hit if you are carrying the “Sword of Doom.” Tweens with a good track record for positive behavior might want to go out with a trusted older teen brother, sister, or cousin. Let your good judgment decide whether that is a good idea or not. When older teens go to parties or haunted houses, be certain that they know what to expect. If they are going in a car, are you sure that the driver is cautious and reliable? Let the kids know in advance how late that they may stay out.
As you sort through the candy when they get home, listen to their adventures. This is a pleasant time for some parent and child bonding. If something untoward has happened, you are more likely to hear about it when it is fresh and the atmosphere is relaxed. Help your children wind down, so that they can get a good night’s sleep.
Breakfast the next morning should include a high-quality protein such as eggs. A good breakfast can help get their day off to a great start. When the breakfast is balanced with protein, carbs, and fats, it helps keep their body systems in equilibrium, especially if they hit the treat bag hard on the way home the night before.
A well-planned Halloween excursion can be a joy, indeed. For the child with ADD who always hears things like, “slow down,” “be quiet,” and “don’t run around like that,” Halloween can be magical. For one night, their natural exuberance can be celebrated. Keep them safe, and let the magic stay in Halloween for your kids with ADD.
Halloween is a great time to spend time with peers! Could your child use a little help in the social skills area? This book won a "Mom's Choice Award." It is the best book that I have ever seen for helping kids navigate through social skills.
* Social Rules for Kids-The Top 100 Social Rules Kids Need to Succeed
A copy of the book for review was provided to me by the publisher, AAPC Publishing. I thank them for the opportunity.