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How old is too old to trick or treat?

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

When to put the candy bag down

Is there a specific age where kids should be discouraged from trick or treating on Halloween, or do you judge by the size of the child? We discuss trick-or-treating age with parents to see where they draw the candy collecting line.

Some trick or treaters may set your teeth on edge when they approach your door on Halloween. Should candy be relegated to little kids, and are teenagers really too old to trick or treat? We polled moms to see if they open their candy bowls to trick or treaters of any age.

Teen years

Some moms were fine with older trick or treaters, as long as they were not yet teenagers. “I would say that once they enter high school (9th grade), they are too old for it,” shared Kelly, mother of two. “I think at that point, they should have a party or something where they can dress up with their friends.”

Brigetta, mother of three, agrees. “We have teenagers come to our door in daily clothes,” she said. “I tell them politely that trick or treating is for the younger children and that I am sorry. If they are with a group (like parents/siblings) I do always treat. I guess it just annoys me that if you can drive you shouldn’t be trick-or-treating!”

Anyone is game, as long as they’re in costume!

Other moms didn’t feel that there should be an arbitrary age limit. “If they are in costume, they can trick or treat at my house,” said Jolene, mom of three. “I don't see a need for an age limit. I have groups of teenagers come to my house and they are respectful of the little ones. It is good, clean, safe fun.”

“My sister-in-law goes trick or treating still,” Rachel, mom of one, shared with us. “She's 20 and dresses up in legit awesome costumes and goes with a few friends. She loves it. I think it's adorable. She reminds me of a little kid on Halloween. I don't think you're ever too old as long as your heart is in it.”

What moms don’t like

Even the moms who don’t mind older teens or adults trick or treating agree there is behavior that they do not appreciate. “I hate those obnoxious groups of teens trick or treating and pushing past the little kids,” related Char from New York. “Even worse is when they don't even have a costume.”

Ana, mom of one, felt the same. “My only issues are older kids or adults not dressing up or un-costumed parents pushing a stroller with a dressed up baby to get candy for themselves,” she explained.

And Rachael from Wisconsin may have summed it up best. “I don’t think there is an age limit, but I won’t give candy to rude kids no matter the age!” she shared.

What to consider

There are other situations that you should consider when a child approaches your door who doesn't fit your ideal of a dressed-up trick or treater. Even though a child doesn't have a costume, particularly a young one, it doesn't mean they shouldn't be trick or treating. Sometimes children have sensory issues or developmental delays that make dressing in costumes difficult for them. As long as children aren't being rude, moms suggest that you give little ones with no costume the benefit of the doubt. You also cannot assume that a child who is taller than you is a teenager, either — some kids are just bigger than the norm.

The bottom line

Trick or treating is a much-enjoyed activity for young and old alike — those who get a sackful of treats, and those who enjoy seeing all of the creative and fun costumes. Educate your own children to be respectful and thank the candy-givers, and try to keep an open mind when kids who don't fit your definition of trick or treaters come to your door.

Tell Us

When do you think the little plastic pumpkin should be retired?

More on Halloween

When you don't celebrate Halloween
Halloween safety tips for parents
5 Tips for Baby's first Halloween

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