Bring on the Great Pumpkin


As Halloween rolls around many parents begin thinking about how to handle the abundance of candy coming into the house.  Parents have found ways to help a child make the right choice or to lessen the amount of fun foods offered in a variety of ways.   When Halloween candy becomes excessive there are two plans I have used successfully.  One involves the Great Pumpkin.  Tell your child that on Halloween night the Great Pumpkin comes out looking for candy to trade for toys.  After your child chooses a small number of candies to keep (number of candies kept equal to age in years until age 8), have them place the rest of the candy outside.  Like the Tooth Fairy, the Great Pumpkin will come while they are sleeping, take the candy and leave a small toy like a small toy car or package of markers.  As a child becomes older they may go along with this for the present.  Another idea is to take the candy, buy some graham crackers and canned frosting and build a gingerbread house.  Leave it around until Thanksgiving and then throw it away.  I have a friend whose sons prefer to keep them until July 4th and then blow them up. 

 Even if you limit the candy to 8 or 10 pieces you still need to decide on when and how often it can be eaten.  My children leave their Halloween candy in the kitchen and can have one piece a day until it is gone. Sometimes they forget about it before the 8 days are over.  Some people allow their children to eat as much as they can the day they receive it and then throw the rest out.  This usually leads to children eating more than feels right for their bodies.  We don’t want to encourage over eating.  Even with fun food, children should take their time with eating and stop when they are full.  They will do this if they know that there will be other fun food opportunities later in the week or in their lives. 

Set your limits and rules concerning these fun foods mindfully.  When children receive messages that fun foods are going to be scarce in their lives they give these foods greater value than other foods.  We don’t want to elevate the status of candy or other fun foods.  Let your child enjoy the rituals of the holiday as a special time.  Then return to your regular routine.

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