Teens are always in either a state of limbo, too scared or unsure to try anything, or veering manically from one personality to the next, trying them on for size. What better holiday for them than Halloween, when they can put on a costume and become someone completely different without long-lasting repercussions (hold the tattoo, please). Here are some ideas and tips to make Halloween safe and sane for you and your teen(s).

Trick-or-treating – are they too old? For the most part, that decision needs to be made by your child. When my son was 13, he decided he wanted to forgo trotting around the neighborhood and be the candy-giver at our home. He really gets a kick out of answering the door and doling out the treats. Some of his friends, however, have continued to dress-up and go house-to-house well into their late teens.

Hosting a Halloween party can be a great alternative to having the kids go out. This can be as simple as renting a couple of scary movies and putting out some candy and sodas, to a full-blown costume party with cauldrons bubbling and sound effects. Involve your teen in the planning and party preparations and really listen to them when they tell you what THEY think will be fun.

Perhaps your teen would be interested in helping out with one of the local Halloween haunts. Check with your local park or recreation center, or a neighborhood school or church to see if they need help with their activities or fundraisers.

For teen trick-or-treaters, a decent costume is a must. Just dressing in all black or putting a paper bag over their head doesn’t quite cut it! Most treat-givers are happy to oblige trick-or-treaters of any age and size, as long as they have put some effort into their costume.

Have a talk with your kids to remind them that Halloween is not a free pass to cause damage to someone’s property. Taking pumpkins off the porch is still stealing; toilet papering someone’s house is still vandalism. (It can’t hurt to check their candy bags for toilet paper and/or eggs as they leave the house.) Also, remind the big kids to be careful not to trample over the little ones. Your 14-year-old Frankenstein shouldn’t be racing a four-year-old Cinderella up the walkway.

If they are going out to ring doorbells, here are some tips to keep your older ones safe and sane on Halloween:

  • Be emphatic about curfew – especially if it is a school night.
  • As always, make sure you know who they’re going out with and by all means, don’t let them go out alone!
  • Know the neighborhood they’ll be visiting or the route they’re planning to take.
  • Make sure they are carrying their cell phone and ensure it is charged up. Tell them to check in with you every hour.
  • Have them carry a flashlight – don’t forget to make sure it works and has new batteries.

Have a safe and happy Halloween – take lots of pictures and snag a couple pieces of “good” candy for yourself!