It’s that time of year when candy corn makes its appearance, pumpkin carving is in demand, spooky holiday decorations go up, and pumpkin-flavored everything is on sale. Halloween is a favorite holiday for many children and families filled with laughter, scares, masterful costumes, and of course, a seemingly bottomless bag of candy. And if you have more than one child, you are likely blessed with the accompanying high-stakes trade deals and sibling arguments over whose Halloween candy is whose that comes after Halloween.
Managing Halloween candy and encouraging healthy-eating habits can be tricky. Some parents may prefer to leave it up to their child to determine how much candy to eat; some parents may set strict rules; and some may take the Jimmy Kimmel approach and tell their kids they ate all of their Halloween candy to avoid the issue. Teaching kids to enjoy Halloween candy in moderation is ideal and may prevent some of the arguments that often surround it. One thing is for sure, Halloween is coming and having a plan ahead of time can help.
1. Consider individual differences. Every child has his or her own preferences, personality, and eating habits. If your child is not one for sweets, or is likely to eat just a few pieces, then they may be able to decide on their own how much candy to have. However, if your child is one who will likely overindulge on Halloween candy, then establishing guidelines may be especially helpful.
2. Make a plan. Discuss with your kids what the expectation for Halloween candy will be ahead of time to prevent any surprises or tantrums. Parents may choose to stipulate that Halloween candy can only be enjoyed after a child has eaten a healthy meal or snack. Some parents chose to be flexible on Halloween night and then implement a plan beginning the next day.
a. One possibility is to allow kids to pick 1-2 pieces of candy a day to enjoy and do this until the candy is gone and/or is ready to be tossed out.
b. Another option is to have children sort through their candy and toss candies that are not their top preference. Parents might give them a number of items they can keep.
c. Another idea is the possibility of buying back candy from your child by offering money or small rewards/privileges for candies that kids “sell” to you.
3. Safety inspection. As always, it is important that parents inspect Halloween candy before any is actually eaten. Parents are encouraged to throw away any candies that appear to have disruption to their packaging, that are homemade, or that appear spoiled.
4. Implement the plan. Parents may need to keep Halloween candy in an out-of-reach or secure location for kids who are likely to sneak candy or get into the bag when their parents aren’t looking.
Once you have a plan in place, you can focus all your attention on the important business of celebrating the spooky season!