The Do's and Don'ts of Managing Halloween Candy Consumption
By Thomas Haller
|Your child's Halloween trick or treat bag is soon to be bulging and overflowing with every kind of candy imaginable, from chocolate bars, M & M’s, bubble gum, suckers, and assorted gummies. It seems to be the goal of every child to acquire as much candy as possible during their trick or treat trek around the neighborhood. You will soon find candy wrappers in your child’s bed, tucked between the cushions on the couch and even in the back seat of your car.|
With candy being universally available and regularly within sight of children, what is a parent to do? How do you curtail its influence on your children and get candy consumption under control in your family? How can you win the candy wars?
The subsequent do's and don'ts can assist you in curbing your children’s candy consumption. Use them to increase the health and well-being of your family.
1. Do be a model for your children to follow. If you are a chocoholic and find yourself foraging through the cupboard for the last chocolate bar or eating an entire bag of M & M's once they are opened, reflect on the message you are sending your children. It will be difficult for you to curb your children's candy consumption when they see you unable to curb your own. So model the message.
2. Don't use candy as a reward. Candy should never be used as a reward by parents, teachers, or any professional working with children. This distorts the role candy should have in a young person's life and teaches children that the reward (in this case candy) is more important than the task performed.
3. Do talk to your children about your candy cravings. Share with them your desire for sweets and your willingness to stay conscious and make healthy choices about your own candy consumption. The positive images you give them on how to set candy aside will help them to set it aside themselves.
4. Do see candy as a wonderful opportunity to set limits with your children. Setting limits with candy means that you provide opportunities for your children to enjoy candy within some clearly defined parameters or guidelines. Discuss with your children how candy consumptions will take place before they head out to gather a bag full at Halloween time. Agree on a portion to be eaten each day and a place to keep it.
5. Don't allow candy to be taken into their bedroom. It is extremely difficult to monitor a child's candy consumption behind closed doors. Make frequent room sweeps to remove any candy that has made its way into the bedroom and remind your child where candy is to be enjoyed.
6. Do say "Yes" to candy consumption. Setting a limit doesn't means you have to say, "No." Sometimes saying, "Yes," with a qualifier, helps you avoid power struggles. "Can I have a piece of candy?" "Yes, you can have one right after supper."
7. Do offer your children choices when it comes to candy consumption. "You can choose five pieces of candy out of your Halloween bag for today. Set the rest aside for a different day. Let's spread all your candy out and look at your choices."
"You can choose one piece of candy now or two pieces of candy for after supper. You decide."
"You can choose to have your Halloween candy kept in the kitchen cupboard where we can keep track of it or you can choose to be done having access to your candy."
8. Don't let candy eating become an everyday occurrence. Keep candy eating rare, enjoyable, and reserved for special moments. Once the line is crossed and candy becomes an everyday occurrence, specialness of it wears off and its presence is now expected.
9. Do educate your children that candy is not food. It is junk and has no nutritional value for their bodies. Change the focus from that of mass consumption to that of significance to you and your family. Talk about the type of candy you had at Halloween when you were a kid and memories you have when eating that candy today. Talk about the cultural or family significance of what a particular type of candy may represent.
By following these do's and don'ts you and your children can enjoy the wonderful taste of chocolate and other candies. The days that follow Halloween can be filled with pleasant moments of special candy consumptions. The "candy clash" will no longer be necessary. Instead, eating candy can move from a battle of control to a wonderful time when one can simply enjoy a sweet taste upon the pallet.
Thomas Haller is the author of Dissolving Toxic Masculinity: 9 Lessons for Raising Boys to Become Empathetic, Compassionate Men and Parent Talk Essentials and The only Three Discipline Strategies You'll Ever Need. Visit www.thomashaller.com.
Listen to Thomas Haller's OMTimes Radio Interview
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