Another Halloween is fast approaching, bringing with it more than $2.2 billion in candy. For parents who work hard year-round to help their children stay within the recommended limits for added sugar, finding a way to deal with the typical trick-or-treat candy haul can be daunting. Since they were very young, I have offered my children a deal. If they pick a few favorite pieces and leave the rest by their door on Halloween night, the tooth fairy will trade the candy for a small gift. They’ve chosen to trade and it has become their favorite part of Halloween.
Now that my oldest has decided she’s ready to stop trick-or-treating, I’m breathing a sigh of relief that she’s avoided the Halloween sugar overload without feeling deprived of the joy of celebrating the holiday. When I first shared this approach with people outside our family, some were horrified because they felt she would be deprived of that joy. Now it’s become a more mainstream approach whether it’s the tooth fairy, Switch Witch or Great Pumpkin who makes the trade. Some schools have even started class competitions for children to turn in Halloween candy.
Not everyone agrees with this approach and fellow blogger Brianne DeRosa of Red, Round or Green revealed why she’s not a fan. Her reasons are:
The Switch Witch elevates the value of the candy.
The Switch Witch can feel like “Us vs. Them.”
The Switch Witch undermines learning how to navigate a junk-food world on your own.
After using the tooth fairy trade, I found it actually devalued the candy for my kids. Instead of getting attached to a giant bag of candy, when they chose to exchange it for something better, the candy had a less important place in their lives.
As far as the “Us” vs. “Them” issue, I don’t think the candy is “good enough” for some kids but not “good enough” for others. It’s actually worse for children who suffer from food insecurity, a lack of healthy food and a lack of healthcare. I try my best to help solve those bigger picture issues but I’m not going to let my children be overloaded with sugar in an attempt to even out the socioeconomic inequalities.
As for learning how to navigate a junk-food world on their own, one of my big concerns is the addictive nature of these things. If they get hooked at a young age, it becomes nearly impossible to navigate the junk-food world as an adult. One of the ways I manage as an adult is to stay away from the junk food and choose better options for myself. Adults have more control over those better options and I feel it is my duty as a parent to help provide better options for my children until they can provide them for themselves.
The most important thing is being mindful about the role sweets and treats play in our children’s lives. Brianne and I may come to different conclusions but we’ve thought about what’s best for our children instead of just blindly following culture and tradition. I hope you will too.
Please share your approach for dealing with the Halloween candy crush.