I recently overheard two mothers talking. One mother was describing her frustration at the enormous bag of candy her son “earned” by winning some kind of competition.

  • This mother didn’t think it would be fair to take away her son’s prize. After all, he’d earned it.
  • On the other hand, she didn’t want him to have so much candy.

How’d this mother resolve the dilemma?

With a stealth attack! Every night after her son went to bed this mother snuck into the kitchen and threw out a little bit of the candy.

Forget the fact, just for a moment, that it’s a shame that the competition organizer decided to use candy as a prize. 

And, forget too, that this is a variation of the problem every parent experiences on Halloween.

We’re talking about the concept of fair here.

I agree with this mother that it wouldn’t be fair for her to take away the prize her son earned for doing something fabulous. But why does she think it is fair to discard her son’s candy prize surreptitiously?

I suspect it’s because she hasn’t thought about her secret solution in quite this way. Rather, she has only thought about her actions as a practical solution to a perpelexing problem.

And I get it. Candy ain’t broccoli. And, kids who gorge on candy can be— how shall I put this nicely?—pesky.

But think about what sneaky parenting teaches kids about fairness.

Not just about fairness when it comes to eating, but about fairness when it comes to relating to other people.

(It’s OK to do whatever you want as long as your motives are good, and you don’t get caught?)

The solution is to rethink the idea of fair.

When it comes to eating fair isn’t necessarily eating what—or how much—everyone else is eating. Or even eating however much you happen to have in your hand.

Fair is eating the amount that’s right for you at the time.

That’s what I wrote about in my last post: Fair is Fair…Or is it?

And then, to teach your child important food skills.

Such as… how to manage a mountain of candy. Hmmm. Sounds like a Halloween dilemma to me. Read But What Are You Going to Do with All that Halloween Candy?

I know it feels like letting children keep their candy will only lead to problems.

But teaching children the wrong idea about what’s fair leads to bad eating habits. And reducing conflict by performing some midnight magic is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

For more ideas on how to solve the problem of sweets and treats read The Nag Factor and A Cookie a Day…

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~