Worried you’ll be fighting everyday for the next week (month?) over how much candy your kids can eat? The solution is simple.

Don’t fight.

And don’t get rid of the candy. Even if you do it nicely with a Switch Witch.

Instead, teach your kids to manage their stash.

Getting rid of the candy is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

Next year on Halloween (or next month at Thanksgiving, or the next month at Christmas, or anytime your child goes to a birthday party) you’ll have to fight all over again.

Do you really want to be stuck in this candy-fighting rut month after month, year after year?

That’s why you’ve got to think beyond the immediate meal/day/candy bag.

Think of Halloween as the universe giving you a gift.

I know, it hardly feels like a gift, unless by gift I mean a massive headache. But hear me out.

Halloween is an excellent opportunity for you and your children to practice boundaries, cooperation, self-control, greed, and a host of other important skills.

I’ve written about this before, so maybe you’re familiar with my theme…every time you feed your kids you’re teaching them something. The only question is, what are you going to teach them?

If you think dumping your kids’ candy will teach them the evils of sugar, think again.

It’s more likely they’ll learn other lessons, such as:

  • Candy has power.
  • Mom is going to dump my candy later, I better gorge now.
  • Feel guilty when you eat candy.
  • It’s best to eat candy when you’re full.
  • You can’t be trusted to exercise self-control around candy.

You can’t be trusted to exercise self-control around candy? Who want to teach kids that?

For more about these unintended lessons, read The How-to-Control-Your-Kids’-Candy-Consumption Con

The Switch Witch only seems like an improvement over dumping.

I know, if you invite the Switch Witch into your home you’re probably dying to tell me how happy your kids are to get their toys (or whatever the Switch Witch switches). But it still teaches your kids that candy has power–what else prompts parents to buy their kids toys on a regular Tuesday or Friday?–and all the other unintended lessons listed above. (And also something about materialism…but that’s a topic for another day.)

No matter how you look at it, the Switch Witch is controlling, not teaching.

What’s next? A toy for not eating that second piece of pie at Thanksgiving? A bike to “buy back” candy canes at Christmas? (I exaggerate, but you get my point.)

You’ve got to think beyond the immediate moment and teach your kids lessons for a lifetime.

The key is to set up some rules that both you and your kids can live with.

So go ahead a negotiate. That’s right. Talk to your kids, whatever their ages.

Throw out your ideas and listen to theirs. How many candies per day is reasonable? You might think one; they might think 20, and you might compromise. How about:

Four candies the day after Halloween? Three candies the next day? Two the following and one every day thereafter?

Whatever you decide, know that the decision-making process will teach your children to reflect on the issue, not just fight against your rules.

The discussion will also teach your kids that you respect their opinions—even if they have the “silly” opinions of a three year old because they’re…well…three!

Don’t underestimate the value of reflection and respect.

Let your children be the keepers of their candy. 

Don’t hide it away. I suggest you dump the candy into a candy drawer. Breaking up the Halloween “set” eliminates the goal to “conquer” the entire stash (especially as Halloween candy gets mixed with birthday candy, etc.)

The candy drawer also teaches your child trust and responsibility.

For more on the merits of the candy drawer read Lollypops Whenever They Want? and Coping with Party Favor Candy for Kids.

Use a visual system (check marks, refrigerator magnets) for recording when  your kids have had their candy.

A visual system will help keep your kids honest. Plus, young children really do have trouble remembering what they did earlier in the day.

If—and only if—your children prove that they can’t be trusted to stick to your agreement (you’ve agreed upon two candies per day and they keep sneaking three or four more) then it’s OK to be the keeper of the candy for awhile.

But keep teaching about self-control, honesty, keeping agreements, etc.

And, if you absolutely must lighten the load…

Consider A Better Buy-Back.

Then, read But What Are You Going to Do With All That Candy?

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~