How to let your kid eat all the Halloween candy they want and not feel like a failure of a parent
In my top 7 tips for celebrating Halloween without any guilt, I encouraged you to let your kids eat as MUCH candy as they want on Halloween. Just on that one day, mind you, but yes… all of the candy they want.
Maybe you think I’m off my rocker with that one!
“If I do that, my kid will eat until he’s sick”
“Or, I tried that once and my kid DID eat until he vomited!”
A tummy ache is no fun. We want to protect our kids from pain. We want them to eat healthy, balanced diets.
But the question I always ask parents is this “what’s going to happen when your child is a teen/adult and doesn’t have her mom to put limits on her?” It’s hard to watch our kids crash and burn as they’re learning, but wouldn’t you rather have them do it while you’re with them to offer help? Instead of abandoning them in the Wild West of Unlimited Sweets, you can help them navigate Candy Canyon.
Here are my tips for being your kids’ Halloween candy eating guide:
a) Regularly remind them to pay attention to how their tummies feel. In general, I give my child a limited portion of sweet stuff/dessert, so his intake is limited to exactly what I give him. But occasionally we’ll have a time when he can eat as much as he wants. It always feels a bit scary, but I know it’s part of trusting him to grow up listening to the messages his body is telling him. So I stick to my role as his guide, and periodically ask him how his tummy feels.
b) Keep checking in with them and ask them if they’re still enjoying the taste and experience of eating the candy. The whole point of eating candy is that it’s a fun experience, right?
c) Remind them that the candy will still be there to eat the next day. To add to this, don’t throw their candy out when they’re not looking! They need to trust that they are in charge of their stash and that it will still be there the next day.
d) Be a role model and eat some candy too! This helps to normalize candy eating. You might think “But I don’t want to normalize it!” But that approach will give candy much greater power… the power of forbidden fruit. It’s normal for kids and adults to enjoy sweet treats. Enjoying it along with your kids can help their relationship with food, and will give you an opportunity to talk about how your tummy feels as well.
e) Do more than just devour candy. Make it a fun experience, with an emphasis on eating slowly and savouring the candy. The other day my husband, my 5 year old, and I each had our own little “fun pack” of Skittles. We talked about how we were going to eat ours. I decided to eat them in their colour groups starting with yellow (my least favourite) and ending with green (my most favourite). My son decided he wanted to eat one of each colour and then eat them in colour groups. My husband decided to eat his in any random order that suited his fancy. He doesn’t always play along.
What happens if they do eat until they vomit?
Some people need to learn things the hard way. As long as you’re not shaming them for eating so much candy, it can be a helpful learning experience in the end.
Debrief the experience with them. Ask questions like:
- How did you feel about vomiting?
- Are you still happy with the amount of candy you ate, or would you do it differently if you could go back in time?
Remember not to ask these questions in a patronizing way! Be genuinely helpful in getting your child to reflect on the situation.
Remember that it’s ONE night
One Halloween night is a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of a child’s life. When it comes to a person’s diet, the overall picture is what counts. If you are offering your child healthy, wholesome food most of the time, a night of gorging on candy isn’t going to undo all that nourishment.
Again, it’s your job as parents to equip kids with the skills they need for life. We live in a world where high sugar food is quite abundant. Learning how to live in such a world without over-consuming sugar is a very important skill. Halloween night is a terrific learning opportunity for you to equip your kids with this essential skill.
What do you think? Will you take this approach with your kids or do you think I’m off my rocker with this suggestion? As always, I invite your friendly, respectful conversation on this topic!
Want to read more about sugar? Check out these articles!
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