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October 28, 2021

What makes a parent's skin crawl on Halloween? It's not the creepy costumes or spooky decorations. It's the mammoth-sized packets of sugar they bring home from trick or treating. As tempted as you are to play "police" to your kids' stash, don't try. If you completely take over the candy supply, hiding or withholding those sweet treats can backfire in a major way. They also say they can't be trusted with it, so don't teach them to be responsible. It's no fun for you as a parent, and it steals all the fun out of Halloween for your kids.

So how do you handle this "sticky" situation?

Use Halloween as an opportunity to teach your kids to be mindful and responsible with treats and candy. Here are 5 tips you can try to relieve the stress and create a positive experience for your kids:

Give alternatives to snack

healthy snacks

Before Halloween begins, get your shopping done. Make sure your house has plenty of other snacks for the next few days. A variety of fruits, string cheese, cereal, peanuts, crackers, cheese or milk will give your kids other munchies besides their stash.

Talk to your children

A father is talking to a boy on a side of a street

All children older than 4 can usually manage their own supply. Younger ones need to be guided with rules and attention (candy products can have a choking hazard.) Talk to them about where all the treats will be placed? Will there be a limit per day? What are the options if they still have a million leftover candies after Halloween? By discussing this in advance, everyone is on board with a game plan so you minimize surprises, arguments, and negotiations.

Fill them up

a variety of healthy foods on a table

Before trick-or-treating, feed your kids a good meal or snack. Of course, this doesn't guarantee they'll munch on the treats they collect when they go door-to-door, but it helps them be more mindful of their loot.

Show and select

After trick and treating, empty the bag and let them choose their can't-live-withouts and just-okay. This way, you're encouraging kids to be picky in what they treat themselves to. Trading candy with siblings or friends, donating it, or freezing it for a fun baking day with mom can be fun.

A variety of sweets and treats

Let them enjoy (and make mistakes)

2 boys making fun faces

The oldest rule in the universe: the more you restrict something, the more irresistible it is. By letting kids enjoy their candy freely, there is no longer an urgency to "get it while you can." It's no longer fun to sneak candy or eat too much while you're not around. Of course, no parents love seeing their kids with treats and even getting sick afterwards. When that happens, instead of punishing them with anger, talk about it, ask what they learned from it so it doesn't happen again next Halloween.

A group of kids with Halloween costumes

Halloween is supposed to be fun for everyone. Being a food police will stress you out and annoy your kids. Instead, be a fun partner in crime to enjoy the craziness, be a guide to their sugar craze in a balanced, moderate way. Don't dread Halloween because of the fear of candy overload. Use it as an opportunity to teach your kids confidence, self-control, mindfulness, and (responsible) fun.

What about your own tips? Care to share your #1 strategy for managing your kids' Halloween candy?

By: Kathy Muenster, Zürich-based content designer 

Photos: Canva/Unsplash

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