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The High Holiday of Childhood is almost here. And yes, it’s going to look a little different this year. Trick-or-treating is cancelled in our city due to COVID and I imagine where you live it’s going to look a little different also. But I’m pretty sure it will involve candy.

Parents have been asking me- what’s the best way to handle ALL THIS CANDY? My answer: Eat it! 

My kids are teenagers now and done with trick-or-treating. (That pic above is a blast from the past when I used to spend days making costumes!) 

This is what we did and it really worked for us:

  • Eat as much as they want on Halloween night.  As Much As They Want.  Really.  No one ever threw up but we did have a couple of tummy aches.  (I didn’t mind this- it let my kids know it’s not good to eat too much candy.)  Before bed we made sure everyone brushed teeth really well.
  • Choose a day to be ‘candy day’.  For one day, my kids ate as much candy as they wanted. (See above.  I think it’s really important that this be genuine- no judging, no making them feel guilty. The idea is to really enjoy it for one day.) If the day after Halloween was a school day, the kids would save their candy day till the weekend so they could Eat Candy All Day Long.  
  • Save 1 piece to eat another day.  We found that eased the disappointment about saying goodbye to the rest of their haul (see #4).
  • Sell us the rest of their candy.  We bought each kid’s candy from them for $10.  Actually after a while, they stopped trick-or-treating when they had as much as they thought they could eat in the allotted time.

Why did this work for us?  I think it’s better to eat a whole bunch of candy for a-day-and-half rather than a little bit every day. Some people let their kids have a piece or two every day. But this means they’ll be eating candy every day until December! Eating it all at once means it gets processed through the child’s system, and brushed off their teeth. My dentist was very pleased with my approach when I told him.

My kids didn’t object because they still got to eat a lot of candy- and get money!

We switched it up a bit last year. Through my work as a parenting coach, I’ve learned about The Division of Responsibility in Feeding. In this approach, the parents decide what the kids eat and when, the kids decide if and how much.

Part of the approach is that all types of food are offered- including sugary snacks like candy (of course not every day!) The idea is that children learn to trust their body’s signals and self-regulate. Last year (the last year of trick-or-treat for my youngest!) we let my daughter eat all her candy, whenever she wanted, until it was gone. It pretty much looked the same as before: All the candy gone fast.

A note: There are some children whose moods are seriously negatively affected by too much sugar. I’m not talking about hyper and excited but angry and aggressive. So don’t try this if that’s is your child. Sending you hugs because this time of year must be hard for you (and your child!)

Whether you try my historic approach or my newer one- here are some other ideas:

The Halloween Fairy.  Leave your candy out for the Halloween Fairy- and she leaves you a toy in the night.

Science experiments:  Google “science experiments with candy” and you get tons of great experiments to try.

What do you do about the plethora of Halloween candy in your house?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Happy Halloween!

Sarah Rosensweet is a certified peaceful parenting coach, speaker, and educator, and the parenting advice columnist for Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three big kids (ages 13, 16, and 19). Peaceful parenting is a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah works one-on-one virtually with parents all over the world to help them go from frustrated and overwhelmed to, “We’ve got this!”

Read more at: www.sarahrosensweet.com