Throwback to 2010 and this was our Halloween…
We ventured over to some friends so Finn could trick or treat. He had one bite-sized Twix and ^^this^^ was the result. Over the next hour he got more red and bumpy. We had our suspicious about allergies and food concerns but this really put us over the edge.
When Finn was 2 (2011), we started trick or treating a few houses in the neighborhood with his buddy Ryder.
We only went to a few houses and were able to easily pick out and move aside the candy. It wasn’t about candy at this point! He had no idea what he was doing… can’t you tell!?!
The following year (2012) got a little trickier as he was curious about everything, but the process was still very manageable.
Last Halloween, Finn and I went through the candy item by item when we got home, which we will do again. (This was also during the Red Sox World Series games!!)
We talked about why they were “safe” and “not safe” (putting each item in the respective pile) and were able to have a general discussion about healthy options and eating too much sugar… why it’s not good, what it does to our bodies, etc.
Let me get this out there: I don’t want to be the party-pooper on candy. Do I really want my kids eating all the junk (or any junk at all)? No. I don’t want them eating high fructose corn syrup and enough food dye to turn them orange. I know what it does to them, both the short- and long-term consequences, but I also know that if I hide it from them or lie to them or tell them they can never have it, it will only make them want it more. I can’t bully my way into forcing them to make the choices I want them to make. There’s no easy answer to this, but we’ve settled on a plan.
1. When we return home, we will individually go through Finn’s entire bag with him and put items in one of two piles: “safe” or “not safe.” As we are doing this, we will discuss the why, which I think is the most important piece for him to understand. We will also talk more about sugar, healthy choices, and treating our bodies well.
2. We will let him pick out two pieces to eat right then and there. No restrictions.
3. We will have him save 5 pieces (because he is five years old) to keep for future “special treats.” Any “safe” candy items is fair game, even if it’s one we wish he wouldn’t choose for whatever reason. It’s his candy. It’s his choice.
4. Option 1: Finn can then trade the rest of his pieces of candy in for coins. Normally we put coins in his piggy bank, but these coins will likely be quarters which he can use to buy a toy. I believe there is a “Switch Witch” locally where you can bring candy in for coins. We might go there, too. We’ll see! Regardless, he will be part of the process of exchanging the candy for something else. It will teach him nothing if I do it without him.
5. Option 2: (Finn gave this option 2 thumbs up after I asked him his thoughts.) This idea comes from reader Sarah in the comments below who does “The Great Pumpkin” with her kids. According to Sarah… The remaining candy “is left out front before bed for ‘The Great Pumpkin.’ He leaves a reward for the candy left behind.” Love this idea!!!
As he gets older, I know he will do the same thing you and I and every other child did at some point. You know what I’m talking about! When you jam as much candy as humanly possible into your pie hole and then you seriously want to throw up all over yourself for days because you feel so sick?!? Am I right? I think we will just have to let him do that. (I actually remember opening a bag of some Tropical Skittles when I was little. They were SO disgusting, but I kept eating them. That’s the power of sugar right there…. so much so that I still remember it.)
I hear so many people say, “just let them be kids.” …. “It’s only one night.” …. “What’s a little candy going to hurt?” … “Get off your high horse.”
Here are my thoughts on that. It would be OK if it really WAS just one night, but as every parent knows, it’s NOT just one night. It’s one night on Halloween and it’s 3 times a week at school and it’s after soccer practice and it’s at church and it’s at the next birthday party and it’s at the bank and it’s at the grocery store and on and on and on. Plus, it’s not just one night at Halloween. It’s one night of collecting the candy and then weeks of mass consumption of junk.
That is not one night and every parent knows it.
What are your plans for your kids Halloween candy? I’d love other ideas.