Parents

Halloween for teens: How old is too old to trick or treat?

As teens and tweens start growing into more responsibility, do they really need to grow out of the childhood tradition of trick-or-treating?

Halloween is often seen as a night for the littles, those gleeful and giddy princesses and superheroes who scamper through the neighborhood before dark, parents in tow.

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But some teens in today’s pressure-filled world still like to dress up in thoughtful, creative costumes to collect candy as well, and their parents are all for it. For those families, trick-or-treating is a nice chance for kids to be with their friends, to reconnect with the community and to enjoy a nice evening.

Amy Creel, whose daughters are 11 and 15, sees trick or treating as a form of wholesome fun, something that needs no age limit as long as trick-or-treaters are in the holiday spirit.

Last year, Creel went out with her younger daughter, Daisy, and big sis Alice went trick-or-treating with friends. Alice goes all out in making her costumes, Creel said, and she shows no signs of stopping the annual tradition.

“It’s generally a fun and safe way to spend the evening,” said Creel, of Silver Spring, Maryland. “I encourage all kids to hang on to that part of their childhood as long as they can. If they want to trick or treat into high school, I think that’s great.”

Amy Creel
Alice, 14, and Daisy, 10, dressed up for Halloween last year. Alice hasn't stopped going out for the holiday even though she's a teen.

Kids in the tween years may begin to lose interest in trick-or-treating and decide to celebrate at a party or haunted house instead. Rather than go on their own candy hunt, they may accompany younger siblings or hand out sweets at home. Some communities limit trick-or-treating, often to kids 12 and younger.

And some parents think it just seems wrong to open their door to find a kid who might just be taller than they are on a night known for shaving cream and rotten eggs.

Lisa Maxwell, a mom of four from Cookeville, Tennessee, feels that once kids are 16, the party’s over and they are too old to trick-or-treat, though she would still give candy to teens at her door. Her older children, 16 and 18, lost interest in going out before turning the big 1-6.

“I feel like at that age, you can drive and you can get a job,” Maxwell said. “I think it’s kind of silly. I think it’s more of young child’s holiday.”

Most kids end the door-to-door tradition between 12 to 17, says Dr. Kate Roberts, a pediatrician in Orange County, California. She has no problem with teens who trick or treat as long as they are in the Halloween mindset and are polite, respectful and patient.

“If you have a teen who throws on an orange T-shirt and walks out the door, they’re not really expressing the holiday spirit,” she says, urging parents to question those kids about why they really want to go out into the night. “Teens can sometimes be disrespectful. You want to make sure your teen isn’t going to be causing any issues in the community.”

Lisa A. Flam, a regular contributor to TODAY.com, is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter.

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