Halloween Season Should Improve Your Child’s Behavior

October 14, 2016

Halloween Season Should Improve Your Child's Behavior

Halloween Trick or Treat privileges should help earn good behavior every October just as a visit from Santa is currency for parents each December. Do not hesitate to take away or reduce those Halloween night privileges, because once you have, it can be an effective way to achieve improved behavior for a long time to come.

As usual, the main reason this special Halloween event is not sacrificed often is due to Momma guilt. We start planning and talking about costumes early. Some of us buy them, while some of us hand make them. We are limited only by our creativity. I’m not gonna lie. Some of my favorite Momma moments have been costume shopping. Then we also enjoyed getting the makeup, which the kids loved to help apply. The entire family was involved in these annual festivities, and they leave memories forever.

I also enjoyed using the same costume years later for the second child.

Halloween lamb chops                                                                         Who wore it best?

So, I get it. I understand the extreme reluctance many parents might have when it comes to using the Trick or Treat privilege as a weapon…I mean as a punishment for unacceptable behavior! I would just like to share my experience to highlight its effectiveness

My sweet angelic preschooler graduated and went off to kindergarten. I cannot tell you how shocked I was at the  sudden change in her behavior. I immediately did not recognize her. She was acting as if she had entered high school and was fiercely defiant. Disobedient in class. Back talking the teacher.  She was repeatedly reprimanded at home and school. A variety of punishments and restrictions were implemented. Her defiance ran so deep that when the teacher told her that her behavior would not let her earn stickers, my child replied: I have stickers at home.

So I laid out my plan. (devious Momma laugh)

We went Halloween costume shopping as usual and then got dressed up, complete with makeup and grabbed her candy holding pumpkin cloth bag. And when it was time to go… Bam!

Umm, yeah. Your behavior did not earn you the right to Trick or Treat. Daddy will take out your sister, but you will stay home and pass out candy with me.

Stunned.

Yup. It finally got real.

Halloween to remember

                                                                What? No more sassy talk?

We positioned ourselves at the door,  and I cheerily talked as if there was nothing wrong. I enthusiastically greeted every Trick or Treater with way more excitement than I have ever actually felt! Every parent who came to door complimented her outfit then asked… When are you going trick or treating?

Awesome. I loved that question because it gave me another chance to say: Oh sweetie, when are you going? Tell the nice lady when you are going.

The next week, I had my sweet princess back.  Of course, her attitude adjustment did not last forever, but then we were only faced with ups and downs of normal childhood willfulness. I still smile at my momentary victory from nearly 20 years ago.  That day was etched into her brain to let her know that nothing was off the table when it came to losing privileges. I recently told her that I was going to write this blog and asked her,  Remember when you passed out candy for Halloween?

She replied: Worst Halloween ever!  (Is it bad that her answer still makes me smile?)

I have had many parents tell me this is too harsh of a punishment, which may be true for your child.  I don’t recommend it as a first line of discipline, but I think it is a great option to use when all other methods fail. I believe you need to find what motivates your child and use that information to your advantage.

You don’t have to absolutely take away Trick or Treating but consider some option that will significantly impact them. My friend recently grew tired of her child’s frequent behavior problems, and she has announced that he can only Trick or Treat if he makes his own costume. A costume that she approves and one that shows a lot of work or creativity was involved. This option can allow for a punishment as well as an opportunity to work side by side with your child…while you mutter under your breath about how much easier things would be if he had earned the right to buy a costume.

Since motherhood is a marathon and not a sprint, you know that you are going to need future creative ways to help your children understand how serious you are about improving their behavior.They need to know that you are the kind of mother who has no shame in taking away major events.  To be fair, many children do not celebrate Halloween or participate in Trick or Treat, so it’s not like you took away a once in a lifetime event.

I encourage parents with young children to start a discussion about losing the chance to go Trick or Treating. You deserve a couple weeks this month of “fake good behavior”, but you will be happy to take what you can get for as long as you can get it!

Don’t miss a chance to make a lasting impression.

 

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