Handling Halloween Candy: A Last-Minute What-to-Do-With-the-Stash Update
|October 30, 2012||Posted by Stacy under Halloween Candy|
Last week, I raised the question of what to do about the obscenely large bag of Kit Kats, Skittles and other not-so-goodies that will be invading your home tomorrow (SEE Trick-or-treating Dilemma: What to Do With All That Halloween Candy?!?). After reading it, I’m guessing some of you were surprised by the expert advice: Hands off! It’s important to let kids learn to manage their own stash. That means no Switch Witch, selling it to your local dentist or offering them money instead.
Now, I don’t know about you, but the recommendation didn’t sit so well for me. Maybe it’s because my kids are so young (ages 7 and 4). But I couldn’t help but wonder: Isn’t it a little crazy to let them eat all that candy?!? Shouldn’t we be teaching moderation? What about at least swapping the high-fructose, neon-colored gunk for something higher-quality? (Something my husband, with his undying love of Whoppers and M&Ms, would never stand for—but I know other people who do it). So I decided to go back to Ellyn Satter and Dina Rose for clarification.
Both Satter and Rose agree that parents can and should start giving children autonomy over their Halloween candy at an early age. Before relinquishing control, lay down some general guidelines—two or three pieces a day at snack time or after a meal, and they get to pick when to eat it. As long as they stick to the rules, they can hold onto their candy; if they break the rules, they’ll have to hand it over. Kids as young as age three or four may be capable of adhering to these guidelines depending on their level of self control, Satter notes.
Rose adds that there are a lot of lessons kids can learn from Halloween, including how to cut back on sweets and treats in anticipation of the holiday (and how to take a break from sweets and treats afterward). This requires a conversation: “We know Halloween is tomorrow, and we’ll be eating lots of treats. So we’re just going to have grow foods tonight.” I love the idea of teaching them to compensate from day to day and meal to meal. (And I tested the strategy tonight when my kids asked for dessert. Guess what? It worked! They seemed to understand the logic and were satisfied to wait.)
What about the idea of reducing the size of the stash by having them trade some for a toy, a little cash, or tickets to see Wreck-it Ralph? “All of that just teaches the child that candy is tremendously important, invested with all sorts of heightened and mysterious emotion,” says Satter. “Letting the child use it for currency heightens that impression all the more.”
“Relax and trust,” Satter adds. “If parents don’t make a big deal of candy, children lose interest.”
So there’s the story—take it or leave it! These happen to be the opinions of two highly regarded child feeding experts. But ultimately, you have to do what makes sense for you and your family. As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
And if you still want to reduce the sheer volume in his stash, you can always pick a small neighborhood for trick or treating; save some for a gingerbread house; have a taste test; or do science experiments.