Happy Halloween! It’s Anna’s third Halloween, but first time going “Trick-or-Treating”. We had a group of candy-hungry toddlers roaming the neighborhood. After visiting just a few houses the kids got the gist of it: we get candy just for saying “Trick-or-Treat”! Duh! Neighbors, secure your candy bowls!
As my child’s appetite for candy grew, I started thinking of how to tame the consumption of Halloween candy. I’ve asked around and received many strategies ranging from parents fully controlling the candy to allowing kids eat it all, with variations in between. Obviously, this year it’s not going to be such a big deal, however, establishing clear rules and realistic expectations ahead of time is key to success in the future.
After doing proper research, here is the Halloween strategy our family decided to follow. It works for us, and is offered for reference. Below please leave a comment if you do something different. I am always open to new ideas.
Tricks on Taming the Halloween Candy Chaos
Prior to Halloween
1. Decorate and Play
Make decorating the house a tradition. Each person in the family can be responsible for an area of the house. If your family is competitive, choose a winner. And don’t forget to read spooky stories or watch some Halloween themed movies.
2. Fill Little Stomachs with Healthy Snacks
If you don’t want your kids to stuff themselves with candy, give them some healthy options prior to trick-or-treating. Involve kids in making the snacks, because then they are more likely to eat own creations. Click here for some Healthy Halloween Snack ideas.
3. Know Candy Options
Not all candy affects our teeth the same way. Dentists recommend choosing candy that is eaten fast, rather than those that stay in your mouth for a period of time. Meaning, a chocolate bar is a better option than a lollipop, as less sugar will settle on your kids’ teeth and fewer bacteria will form.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
It is best to start a Halloween candy policy early. For toddlers and preschoolers use the “Candy by Age” rule. The child is allowed to have as many sweets as how old the child is. A 2-year old gets two pieces, a 5-year old will get five.
It gets more difficult to control candy intake as children grow. Hence, it’s a good idea to have realistic and consistent candy rules in place. Allow your child to have 1-2 pieces while trick-or-treating, it will satisfy the craving and get the rest home safe for sorting, counting and trading.
5. Divide and Conquer
Be reasonable with the amounts of sweets your kids can have. According to the researchers, full control and restriction of candy usually backfires at the well-meaning parents. Candy then becomes the forbidden fruit, and may turn into obsession. Teaching your kids to treat themselves to candy in moderation will show them that it’s only a small part of their food choices and will also promote self-control.
There are several options on what can be done with Halloween candy. Discuss the options with your family and decide what will work best for you.
- Seized by Parent
Not the most favorable option in my opinion, but done with good intentions in mind. This option lowers kids’ self-esteem by not being given the option to self-regulate candy intake. To avoid hurting your child’s feelings, it may be best to refrain from trick-or-treating as a whole. Watch the kids’ reactions to parents eating their Halloween candy.
- Keep and Eat
Kids keep all of their candy preferably in a central location and may have free access to it after agreeing on a daily limit. After a week or two the novelty will wear off and candy can be moved to the fridge and later tossed.
If the older kids are having troubles with self-control, try requiring them to brush teeth after each candy they eat without setting a daily limit. I am sure after a day or two of constantly brushing teeth they will find their sweet balance.
- Swap for Healthier Options
Don’t spoil the trick-or-treating fun for kids with allergies. They can still roam the neighborhood and collect candy, but once they get home parents swap candy for fruit, toy, or hypoallergenic dessert.
- Invite the Switch Witch
Allow kids to pick out their favorite candy and leave the rest for the Switch Witch. The witch (aka you) comes at night and trades unwanted candy for a toy. This also teaches kids to prioritize and not to waste their time on something they don’t want.
- Donate or Sell Candy
Your child may have a few treats on Halloween and decide to share the holiday spirit with others. There are several programs that will accept Halloween candy as a donation or will even pay your child money to pass the sweets on to our troops overseas, veterans, and military families.
6. Relax and Drink Water
Halloween and trick-or-treating are meant to be enjoyed by all. Indulging in sweets one night of the year will not do any long-term damage to your kids’ health. So relax, have fun, and don’t forget to drink lots of water to rinse the sugar off your teeth.