“What are we going to do with all this candy?!” This will be the question of the day after the kids go to bed on Halloween night…

I have really mixed feelings about candy- you probably do as well.  Kids love it!  Can you think of a better treat than candy?  My kids can’t either.  Halloween is the high holiday of childhood!  BUT… thoughts of tooth decay, the obesity epidemic, and kiddie sugar cravings and dependence bring us parents crashing down from the contact high.

Our family created a ‘deal’ that works really well for us.  Now that my boys are teenagers (and this might be my daughter’s last year! Sniff…) they don’t go trick-or-treating anymore but we’ll probably still do this with my daughter. (Or not- check out my radical change of heart I outlined below!)

This is what we did:

  • Eat as much as they want on Halloween night.  As Much As They Want.  Really.  No one has thrown up yet although we’ve had a couple of tummy aches.  (I don’t mind this- it lets my kids know it’s not good to eat too much candy.)  Before bed we make sure everyone brushes teeth really well.
  • Choose a day to be ‘candy day’.  For one day, my kids eat as much candy as they want. (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 is a school day, the kids have been known to save their candy day till the weekend so they can Eat Candy All Day Long.  (If that happens, I take the candy and put it away somewhere safe!)
  • Save 1 piece to eat another day.  We find this eases the disappointment about saying goodbye to the rest of their haul (see #4).
  • Sell us the rest of their candy.  We buy each kid’s candy from them for $10.  It really is worth it to us. 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 believe it is better to eat a whole bunch of candy for a-day-and-half and get it processed through the child’s system, and brushed off their teeth,  rather than eat 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!)  My kids understand this- and they don’t object to selling their candy because they still get to eat a lot of candy- and get money!

Newsflash: If I had to do this over again- I might do it slightly differently. 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. So this year I think we might just let my daughter eat all her candy, whenever she wants, until it’s gone. And of course you know her brothers will help her out. I’m pretty sure it won’t last longer than the ‘day of candy’ did anyhow.

Whether you try my historic approach or my new radical 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 peaceful parenting coach and educator. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three big kids (ages 11, 14, and 17). Sarah teaches parents a non-punitive, connection-based approach that uses firm limits with lots of empathy. Sarah is an API certified parenting educator and is certified by Dr. Laura Markham as an Aha! Peaceful Parenting Coach. Find her at sarahrosensweet.com

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