The costumes are fitted, the face paint perfected and candy pails picked, soon you’ll be heading out the door guiding your kiddos as they bounce from house to house gathering handfuls of confections that rarely make it past your threshold let alone in your children’s bodies. According to NielsenWire, Americans buy nearly 600 million pounds of candy during the Halloween season–roughly 1.9 pounds per person. Frightening! How do you allow kids to have their fun and eat it too without going crazy with sugar overload? Here are a few tips for a happy and healthy Halloween season.
Go the distance: If your kids love trick or treating, try extending the route this year. They’ll be encouraged by the promise of gathering even more candy, and along the way they’ll also be getting some great exercise. While weight and the distance walked determine calories burned, on average a 60 lb kid will expend 35 calories per mile. Now, imagine how they’ll get the heart pumping if they run from house to house.
Be a careful candy patroller: Once back home, your kids will likely want to dive right in to their stash. Go ahead and let them enjoy. After all, they did do all the work to gather the goods. Research shows that parents who micromanage sweet intake may end up with children who overcompensate by sneaking candy and overeating at every chance. Allowing one night of digging in sends a message that candy and sweets are intended for special occasions but not for every day. After Halloween night, allow children to select a piece of candy after a full meal; for example, one with lunch and two pieces with dinner.
Trade: If your kids value something more than candy, for example new Crayons or a book, set up a trading post with candy values for each item. Trading goods is a great way to teach business and negotiating skills. You may also use candy donation to show your kids the power of generosity. Many local dentists have drop-offs to send candy to the troops. Explain to your kids how giving can have a positive effect on the welfare of others and let them write personal notes to send with their treats.