The Candy Police

The Candy Police

If you live in the US, chances are your family is starting to prepare for Halloween. Children are excitedly planning their Halloween costumes – and many parents are terrified already about the amount of sugar this holiday entails!

A client asked me recently for some guidance on how to approach Halloween in a way that minimizes the sugar intake and maximizes the fun. Here are some of the thoughts I shared with her:

As you are preparing for Halloween, or any holiday, it’s important to create a plan.

Kids do best when they know what to expect and know what the boundaries are, so it’s a good idea to know in advance what those boundaries are.

Especially for very young children (under age 5) and/or highly sensitive children of any age, keeping holiday celebrations simple and low-key is important. If you’re planning to attend a Halloween party, decide in advance how long you will stay and stick to the plan.

If you are going to go trick-or-treating, plan in advance how long you’ll be out and put some parameters around how you will do it. Some ideas:

1. Perhaps you trick-or-treat at 5 to 10 houses and then return home to hand out candy together as a family
2. Perhaps you decide only to visit the houses of neighbors you actually know. (This is just one idea! In our neighborhood, we like to visit houses of people we don’t know, so we can meet new people!)
3. Perhaps you decide you’ll go up one side of the street and down the other side and call it a night.
4. Perhaps you will decide on a time limit (30 minutes?) and only stay out for that length of time. (Remember – if you have walked for 20 minutes in the opposite direction of your home, you will then have to walk back! And I guarantee your kid(s) will insist on trick-or-treating at all the houses on the way back, too!)
5. Perhaps you skip trick-or-treating altogether and do something else! (I know in many communities, families trick-or-treat at businesses or at the mall. So many options!)

What to do with all that candy??

Trick-or-treating is a fun activity for many children and sorting the candy afterwards is sometimes the MOST fun (at least it was for me!)….but then what do you do with that massive amount of sugar?!

We all know that consuming large quantities of sugar is not healthy, so we may not want our child to eat ALL the candy they’ve just collected. Here are some ideas for how to set boundaries around sugar consumption at Halloween:

1. Perhaps…let them eat as much as they want ON Halloween (with the understanding that after that, it’s gone)
2. Perhaps…you allow one piece a day until it’s gone. (Decide in advance WHEN they are allowed to have this candy – after dinner? After school/daycare? Before breakfast?) If you decide to take this path, know that you might still be shelling out tiny candy bars in April! ;)
3. Perhaps you allow a certain number of pieces of candy and toss the rest. (Some dental offices and other local organizations organize collections of candy to donate to military troops. Perhaps you look for this in your area.)
4. Perhaps…you ask your child what THEY think the rule should be??? Open up a conversation about healthy consumption of sweets, then ask what they think a reasonable amount of candy is. The benefit here is that kids are much more likely to stick to rules they have helped to create.

Halloween can be a lot of fun, with some boundaries in place. Pick a boundary that feels good to you and feels like something you can enforce. For example, I do not want to have to be The Candy Police for the next three months, so I typically set a boundary that involves tossing the candy after a certain length of time (couple days to a week).

Be safe and have fun!

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