Halloween is just around the corner, and this fun holiday is as much of a celebration of connection as it is of witches, ghosts, goblins and candy.

It is a welcome throwback to the times when real interactions were all that counted — Halloween provides an entire dimension of fun that online gaming can’t possibly come close to. It provokes all of our senses and alerts us to the possibility that we may encounter some hair-raising pranks and spooky fun.

And, unlike other “real” traditions that are not tech-focused, today’s youths get excited about it. Seeing kids animated about a non-virtual activity is a treat in today’s tech-driven times.

Despite all the positives that Halloween offers, statistics indicate that Americans buy nearly 600 million pounds of candy during the season. With obesity and diabetes on the rise, not to mention the scare you’ll get at the dentist’s office, parents may want to limit candy intake.

The tricky part is getting the kiddies on board, and while there is no magic potion, the key to a successful Halloween is parents’ ability to balance what is reasonable with a child’s desire to celebrate and indulge.

Here are 10 tips to help limit a child’s candy intake:

1. Reduce the size of your child’s candy bag, or limit the number of houses they hit on Halloween.

2. Allow a child to eat the candy until it’s gone as their “regular” intake of sweets, not in addition to the treats they take in daily. Part of this is teaching kids to leave room for the candy, instead of eating a huge meal and still going after the candy.

3. Allow the kids to indulge right after trick-or-treating, then limit their intake to a certain number of pieces a day. For example, one with lunch, one with an after-school snack and one after dinner.

4. For overweight children, try to focus on a certain type of candy, such as hard candy or lollipops — they tend to last longer and are often lower in calories.

5. Diabetic children will want to have some Halloween candy. Parents of diabetic children report that if they practice moderation, they have more cooperation, less resistance and less sneaking behavior than if they were to insist upon total abstinence. This tip also applies to overweight children.

6. Some parents like to store candy in the freezer or refrigerator. In addition to preserving the candy, it tends to be more difficult to eat fast and may be less tasty for kids.

7. Recognize that when babysitters or indulgent relatives are caretakers, the candy is more likely to come out. Rather than convince these caregivers how it’s not good to overindulge, the best thing to do it to remove it when they are in charge, rather than delegate this decision to them.

8. Share your candy by giving it to the troops abroad. Many local dentists have candy drop-offs and send it out to troops.

9. Have the Halloween Pumpkin or Witch exchange the candy left under the pillow for a quarter per piece of candy. That way, the kids will make money instead of cavities! Or if a child is very overweight, consider talking directly about candy being against the goal of weight reduction and buy it back with a goal of doing something active and fun with the money.

10. Be a role model by limiting your own Halloween candy intake. The best way to teach kids about moderation and healthy eating is by doing it yourself.

Halloween can be a fun (and spooky!) time of year, and it’s a great way to spend time as a family. So, keep these tips in mind, get your kids out there saying “trick-or-treat,” and have a “witchin’” good time!

Dr. Kate Roberts is a licensed child and school psychologist and family therapist on the North Shore. Ask a question or make a comment at kate@drkateroberts.com.


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