It’s Halloween, and your doorbell rings. When you open the door, you’re surprised to see not cute little caped crusaders standing there, but a teenager holding open a trick or treat bag. What do you do? Halloween is supposed to be for little kids, after all, and not a teen taller than you. But before you say something terse and close the door, think twice. On Halloween, don’t be a witch. Here’s why you should give teenagers candy on Halloween, even if the kid has a mustache that’s real — and not part of a costume.
They Need To Be Kids
While Halloween is often thought of for the elementary school set, there’s no real cutoff age for when kids need to stop trick or treating. “Children are forced by society to grow up too quickly,” says Janice Robinson-Celeste, an early childhood specialist. “If the teen still feels the need to trick or treat, then let them.” Allow a kid to be a kid for as long as he needs to, and if Halloween is a way for him to extend his childhood, then so be it.
They’re Not Getting Into Trouble
Egging cars. TP-ing houses. Think about it: on Halloween, there are so many worse things that teens can be doing than coming to your door craving a little candy. “Besides the obvious, (like they are not out drinking, throwing eggs at second-graders and doing who-knows-what), they are visiting neighbors,”says Pamela Layton McMurty, author of A Harvest and Halloween Handbook. So let them have some innocent fun on Halloween with their friends and appreciate the fact that your house will be TP-free in the morning.
They Won’t Feel Left Out
If teenagers have younger siblings who are trick or treating, it can make them feel sad that they can’t participate, too. After all, there’s no reason to exclude one sibling just because he’s already entered puberty, while his little sister is still in preschool. Halloween is a fun holiday that allows all kids—teens alike—to participate in together as a family. That way, they can still do something fun with their parents and it helps to create fun memories for everyone.
They’re Being Part Of The Community
Halloween is a social activity. It allows kids to walk through their neighborhood, ring their neighbors’ doorbells, and catch up with them on what’s going on in their lives. What’s not to love about that? Encouraging kids to be active participants in their community is a wonderful thing, rather than having their noses stuck in their phones. “Halloween is a time when kids and teenagers get to spend time with some of their old friends or meet new ones,” says Dr. Lina Velikova. “That’s why adults should do everything in their power to support this.”
They’re Being Creative
Some of the coolest costumes you’ll see on Halloween are donned by teenagers. Remember, many teens are making their own costumes, so when you see an outfit that a teen put together, you should celebrate it for their ingenuity and creativity. And of course, give out some candy, too.
Halloween is one of the last social rituals of childhood. So encourage costumed characters of all ages to come to your door and score some full-sized candy bars. They’ll be happy…and so will you.