In a well watched video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YQpbzQ6gzs) Jimmy Kimmel shows kids’ reactions to the news that their parents have eaten all their Halloween candy. Kimmel claims he was surprised to see how really upset many kids were. Not I! Kids love their Halloween candy. I repeat, they LOVE it.
What an odd holiday is Halloween. On that one day of the year we encourage, if not accompany our kids while they go out at night, knock on strangers’ doors, talk to strangers, and beg for candy. Really?
Halloween has become quite a holiday in these United States. Stores start whetting kids’ appetites as soon as the back-to-school sales are ripped off the shelves at Labor Day. Pumpkin patches sprout long before its harvest time. Front yards and house fronts are decorated in bewitching ways weeks before the 31st. And dinner table talk is dominated by discussion of kids’ and parents’ costumes. Almost as pervasive as the takeover of red and green in December, is the big deal that Halloween has become. But costumes, decorations, pumpkins and parties aside, Halloween candy is still at the top of kids’ lists. In fact, the National Confection Association tells us that 93% of all kids go trick-or-treating.
I’m pretty sure Halloween is here to stay. What’s a parent to do? Dentists tell us all that sugar is bad for our kids’ teeth. Nutritionists tell us all that sugar is horrible for our children’s health. But parents have a hard time putting limits on this holiday and its bounty. There is one thing I can say for sure: Children need to have a say about what happens to their candy. Remember, it is theirs after all.
Here are some suggestions for dealing with Halloween candy (that is, if there is anything left after you have raided the stash after the kids go to bed.)
- Let the kids eat as much as they want, even all of it (and suffer the consequences) and brush their teeth on Halloween. Then be done with it. (This works particularly well with little ones.) You would be surprised to know how many dentists favor this option, saying it is the frequency of the candy eating rather than the quantity that is damaging to teeth, according to Dr. Paul Kelson in Los Angeles.
- The child gets to choose a particular amount of candy to save (one for each finger, or for each day of the week, for example), and then it is over.
- Participate in a “buy back” program. There are local dentists in many cities who will pay by the pound for the candy. Some kids actually love money as much as candy.
- There are dentists (and others) who will send the child’s candy to the troops overseas who love candy and don’t get to trick-or-treat.
- Send the candy to Mommy or Daddy’s office for the adults to enjoy. They love candy and they don’t get to trick-or-treat.
- Not that our kids need any more toys, but the “Switch Witch” takes the candy and leaves a toy while the child is sleeping.
- Please do not say you are going to take it to the sick children in the hospital. (Is it better for their teeth to rot than your child’s?)
- “Disappearing” it isn’t an honest option. Your child needs to know how and why you make the decisions you make.
Regardless of the candy’s fate decided upon by your child and you, there is more to do with candy than eat it. The candy can be used for math, science, culinary, nutrition studies, and for art.
- The younger children will like to categorize and sort the candy in all sorts of ways: by color, by kind, by size, by likes and dislikes. It can be counted. It can be measured. It can be weighed. It’s candy math!
- Older children love candy trading and deal making with their siblings or friends. At long last the younger sibling has the older one begging for his Sour Gummies.
- Encourage the scientist. Mix different candies together and place them in muffin tins or loaf pans to be cooked (melted) in the oven. Let your child use his creativity on this one by making candy cookies, loaves, lumps…that will, likely, taste awful.
- Encourage the nutritionist. Look at the ingredients of the different candies. After trying to pronounced them, Google them and find out that it is the child putting in his body.
- Make candy collages using wrapped candy, unwrapped candy, or just the wrappers.
Any of these options keeps the “happy” in Halloween.