Is Your Kid Too Old to Trick-or-Treat?

Is She Too Old to Trick-or-Treat?

Spilled Halloween candy from a jack-o-lantern after trick-or-treating

Girls are getting a lot of mixed messages these days. If they speak their minds, experiment with fashion and style, or show more interest in social media than storybooks, society tells them they’re growing up too fast. Meanwhile, several communities now have laws that say if your girl goes trick-or-treating past the seventh grade, she could serve jail time—no joke!—because she’s “too old” for kid stuff. A scary message, indeed.

Growing up is hard enough for girls to navigate without everyone weighing in on whether it’s happening on the proper schedule. “There’s so much going on during adolescence—not just with the physical changes that accompany puberty, but with increased responsibilities, navigating relationships and emotions,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “While your girl may be excited at the idea of being a teenager and the freedoms she might associate with that, she may very well also feel nervous, intimidated, or simply out of her depth at the same time.”

Continuing to participate in some of her most beloved childhood and family traditions—like dressing up and trick-or-treating—can provide a sense of stability, comfort, and no-pressure fun in her sometimes-stressful world. Sure, she might be interested in some more grown-up TV shows and thinking about college, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to leave the comforts of her childhood behind for good.

“Parenting a teen can be tricky,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Some might cling to the idea of their daughter as their baby girl, resisting or even ignoring her pleas for independence as she gets older. Others may be so excited for their girls grow into successful young women that they speed them right along, away from the simple pleasures of her childhood. But the best thing always is to take a step back, listen to your girl, and then meet her where she is developmentally.”

So let her take the lead this Halloween—whether she’s excited to rake in the candy with friends from school or would rather stay in and watch a spooky movie with her bestie. After all, this holiday can be built around creativity, imagination, and fun. Three things we hope none of us outgrow!