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How to keep your kids from begging for Halloween candy

October 31, 2016

Halloween has become one of my favorite holidays. I never cared for it much before I became a parent, but now I look forward to it every year. My kids get so excited for the day to finally arrive, and I love seeing them dressed up in their little costumes, even if it’s only long enough for a couple of pictures. We take them door to door, and they continue to be thrilled each and every time a neighbor drops a treat into their ever-growing stash. We come home way past their bedtime with loads of treasure, and they can’t wait to dig through it all and sample their goodies.

As every parent knows, however, the fun and excitement turns to agony soon enough when we try to take away their hard-won sugary prizes. The sheer volume of sweets most kids receive on Halloween are enough to make any doctor or dentist shudder, and yet as parents we struggle to manage the situation. We want to let our kids have fun and enjoy the holiday, but we also want to make choices that are good for their health. And let’s be honest, for our own sanity, we want to find a way to keep our kids from begging us for Halloween candy every minute of every day.

With this quandary in mind, I thought I would share with you the strategy for managing Halloween candy that I’ve found most successful over the years. That isn’t to say that I execute this perfectly (many times I’m just a big pushover), but it can and does work.

Give them free reign over the candy

That’s right, I said it. Let your kids go absolutely wild with the candy on Halloween. Let them hold their own buckets, dig through the goods, spread it all out on the floor, open it, eat it- whatever they want! Let them trade candy with their siblings, try out candy that you know they aren’t going to like (and spit it out if they want to) and eat as much of it as they desire.

And then, be sure you brush their teeth before they go to bed.

Put a time limit on it

I’m sure at this point, you’re thinking I’ve lost my mind, but stay with me. Allowing your kids to go crazy with the candy lets them have fun and keeps the magic of the holiday alive. However, this is done within a small time frame so that they do not continue consuming candy every single day. I know some parents who ration their kids’ Halloween candy so that they’re still haggling over it by the time the Easter bunny comes to town. That sounds like torture to me. I don’t want my kids eating candy every day, and I don’t want to be the gatekeeper of the candy while enduring a child’s whining as they beg for it every day.

Furthermore, many dentists will tell you that it isn’t necessarily the volume of candy consumed but the frequency with which they consume it that becomes problematic for a child’s teeth. Usually, I give my kids a window of two or three days. They get to enjoy their candy however they wish during that time, and then the candy goes away.

Make a plan for the extras

I let my kids know from the outset that they can eat their favorites (who needs to eat every single piece of candy ever offered to them, anyway?) and then the rest we plan to give away.

Many schools and dentist’s offices will collect excess candy to send as part of a care package to troops stationed overseas, and we have often donated to that cause. You may also simply bring the candy to your work or office to share with coworkers. I have also been known to send the candy straight into the trash when I couldn’t find a suitable place to donate it (Shh…don’t tell my kids.)

Stick to it!

This plan only works if you follow through with it. If you’re just threatening to throw out candy every time your kids beg for it, you’re creating a monster- a giant, sugar-crazed monster. And remember that getting rid of the candy is not a punishment, and it shouldn’t be a surprise, either. Tell your kids from the outset what to expect: we enjoy our treats during Halloween and for a short time after, we eat our favorite candies and explore new ones we’ve never tried before, and then when it’s time to be done with it, we go back to our routine of choosing foods that are healthy and help our bodies grow strong.

Oh, and if you stash a few goodies for yourself, be sure you’ve got a good hiding place. If your kids find out their candy is gone and you’ve saved some for yourself, you’re in big trouble!