Chances are, your kids have at least thought about pulling some Halloween pranks. No kid is perfect on Halloween. Raise your hand if you ever soaped a window. Well-behaved kids can succumb to peer pressure just as easily as any other kid. On holidays and special occasions, their guard is down. They just want to have fun. What happens when pranks involve destruction of property? It’s not that fun for your neighbors. How do you react as a parent? Here’s a few ideas that may help.
Don’t treat Halloween pranks with indifference.
Ignoring Halloween pranks can lead kids to believe it’s OK to vandalize, as long as it’s in good fun. Is that the message you want to send them? If not, you need to get serious when kids destroy property on Halloween. What if the damage isn’t permanent? It’s still wrong to soap windows or T.P. trees. That’s huge mess for the homeowner. That’s why you have to treat pranks as you would any other form of misbehavior. Start by raising your expectations.
Expect kids to take responsibility for Halloween mischief.
Cleaning up after your kids’ Halloween pranks shouldn’t be your job. It’s theirs. So is the apology, the humiliation and everything else that comes with it. While it’s wrong to purposefully humiliate your kids, there’s nothing wrong with letting them be embarrassed by their own mistakes. It’s how they learn. They’ll never learn to take responsibility for their actions if you’re constantly shouldering their burdens. Parents who expect their kids to do the right thing are seldom disappointed.
Follow up on clean up when kids play Halloween pranks.
Once again, that doesn’t mean you should do it for them. It means that you should discreetly check to see that they’ve taken care of it. Even though the responsibility belongs to the kids, your neighbors will expect to see you involved in the process. Take the time to speak to your kids’ Halloween “victims” to be sure things were remedied in a satisfactory manner. If the mess hasn’t been addressed or the work is substandard, insist that your kids make it right.
Don’t be contradictory about kids’ pranks.
Your youngest got even with the curmudgeon next door. You know, the one that’s been harassing you all year about the toys in the front yard? Unfortunately, her Halloween prank left a different kind of mess in his yard. Take all the steps above. More importantly, don’t let the kids hear you chuckling about it with friends. You might be surprised at what they pick up on when you don’t even know they’re in the room. If you simply must share it, make sure the kids aren’t anywhere nearby when you do. Sending mixed messages can defeat your best discipline.
Bonus tip: Keep kids busy
What’s the best way to keep kids from playing Halloween pranks? Load their holiday with so many fun activities that they don’t have time for pranks.
Portions of this article were previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.