Parenting through the Sugar Rush of Halloween (or any other holiday)

The two most obvious, frequent, and fun elements of the Halloween holiday also tend to capture most of our attention: costumes and candy. Even teenagers (and let’s be honest, adults too) will pull out a mask or don some sort of a costume in order to enjoy a bag full of sweets at the end of the day.

The costumes are cute.

The candy? Well… it can go from cute to moody pretty quickly.

How do we parent through the sugar rush of Halloween? How do we handle the energy, the whining, the negotiating, and the crankiness of candy excess? Here are three tips for you as you “trunk and treat” or enjoy some other type of candy-centric holiday.

  1. Set limits, before the candy comes! Is there a cut-off on amount of candy eaten at a time? Is bedtime different because you’re out trick-or treating? Have a plan, tell them the plan, and stick to the plan. It doesn’t mean the kids won’t still try to talk you out of it, but it will help that the foundation has been firmly laid.
  2. Stay calm, and don’t forget to eat your vegetables. If you find yourself indulging in some extra sugar at Halloween, you may find your own body reacting with a rush of energy, strong emotions, and a crash at the end of it all. Try to balance the sugar with healthy food, with plenty of water and rest, and remind yourself that even if you also want to whine or engage in some cranky behavior… you’re the adult here.
  3. Stay in charge of your own values and parenting approach. It sometimes starts to feel like the cultural pressures of a holiday have more power than parents have. This may feel true to your child (and perhaps to you too) but that does not make it an actual truth. You are still the parent. Knocking on strangers’ doors and roaming the neighborhood at night is still a risky endeavor. Unsupervised teenage parties are still dangerous and ill-advised. It’s still true that nothing good happens after midnight. Stick to those limits, and engage your child in values-oriented conversations. (You just might have to wait until they’re back to normal on November 1st.)

Somehow, many of our American holidays have become centralized around food and candy. The Easter bunny brings chocolates. Thanksgiving is a nap-inducing feast. Christmas candy canes are a classic treat. In whatever holiday you find yourself facing an onslaught of candy and sugar, try the tips above, and try to enjoy the holiday time with your family.