Halloween hack: A “trick” to help kids remember to say ‘thank you’

Julie's hack is tough, but it works for her family.

Last year I got so tired of having to remind my kids to say "thank you" at every house that this year I told them every time I had to remind them to say thank you after getting their treat, I would take away a piece of their candy at the end of the night.  We had trick-or-treat last night (absurdly early, I know) and it worked like a charm!

I appreciate the logical nature of this hack and the importance of manners, but I wonder if there's a consequence that doesn't involve the parent playing candy-tallying cop all night? For me (and, I imagine for the kids), the night would be tainted by a threat hanging in the air. Perhaps, if repeated reminders to say thank you are falling on deaf ears, holding a child back from trick-or-treating at the next house? It's immediate, it's clear, and then it's done.

More: Easy Halloween tips


  1. Brian says

    What we did was not specific to Halloween, but simply when our child asks for something, we start to hand it to him, and if he has not said please, we don’t give it to him.

    We did this with a sign language please when he was 18 mos old. He is now 5 and he is very conscious of please and thank you now (of course he still needs reminding some times).

  2. pickel says

    the first year we trick or treated our son knew sign and he thanked them in sign but everyone thought he was blowing kisses.

  3. Ann says

    My son is very conscious of please and thank you as well. However, on Halloween, he gets so excited he forgets sometimes. Although I do think manners are very important, I agree with Asha. I would rather remind than threaten – at least on holidays. Still, it is a good idea.

  4. Jill in Atlanta says

    I will never give up the baby sign language! Hinting that they’ve forgotten to say thank you by signing it to them is discrete. With sign, at least the neighbors THINK my child has manners! Also, if I don’t start to leave the doorstep and am blocking their way, they often get the hint that we aren’t finished yet.

  5. Anna says

    We Trick or Treated last night also. I took six kids out and at least three of them remembered to say thank you at each house and the others parroted the older ones as soon as they heard the words. Why? Because they knew from experience that we would not move on tro the next house until they each said thank you and happy halloween. There was no yelling or threats neccasary.

  6. Stu Mark says

    I’ve thought about this one for a bit. I’m against it.

    I feel that there are certain times when it’s ok for your kid not to be perfect. Halloween is one of them.

    Consider what is inside their head. What are they preoccupied with? What are they thinking about when they are trick-or-treating?

    I think “please” and “thank you” are requisite, no question. But the time to teach said terms and their usage is not during their third favorite moment of the year.

    If you have read this far and are still of the mind that trick-or-treating is a good time for the “please” and “thank you” lesson, consider doing it a week ahead of time, practicing with everything they interact with, like “Please may I have the potatoes” or “Thank you for making my lunch” or “May I please watch tv before I finish my homework” or whatever.

    …just a thought…