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    Trick-or-Treat! Have a Safe and Healthy Halloween: Moderate and Set Limits

    Dr. Donna Housman       

    Trick-or-treaters are just around the corner!

    Children and parents are planning their costume’s for tonight’s favorite Halloween ritual, trick-or-treating. As we send them around the neighborhood gathering their loot, we worry about the wear and tear sugary treats will put on their newly formed teeth, precious tummies and limitless amounts of energy. It’s our job as parents to prepare children for this fun night ahead, but not at the expense of a child’s health and well-being. By setting limits and creating realistic expectations, we allow children to have a quality trick-or-treating experience in the neighborhood and at home!


    Prepare your child for the evening ahead. When we communicate how events will unfold, your child will not be surprised as the night progresses. To prepare a young child for Halloween, a parent may have a conversation with him or her about Halloween masks, its purpose and who is behind the mask. For children who are excited about candy, their parents can describe the process of sorting harmful candy from good candy after trick-or-treating. Children can be included in these processes before enjoying the candy.


    Presenting children with choices allow them to feel included. For example: before it’s time to trick-or-treat, ask your child if he would like to wear this year’s Batman or last year’s Superman costume. Another decision your child can make while trick-or-treating; ask if he or she would like to walk down Elm Street or Mulholland Drive. These choices allow children to communicate and participate in forming resolutions together, with each other and parents.


    Upon returning from trick-or-treating, children are excited about their recently collected treats. They are likely to indulge their sweet tooth as soon as they arrive! Since it’s Halloween, pick out four pieces to eat tonight! As parents, we want to make sure our kids do not over indulge and upset their stomachs. By setting limits and teaching children about moderation, they learn that less is more!

    For a child under three years of age, parents can create daily portions for their children. If a child asks for more, parents acknowledge the child’s feelings, give reasons for why more candy is not shared, and reinforce the limit.

    Children over the age of three are able to work with their parents to reach a resolution. Parents present the problem; there are 40 pieces of candy until Christmas. How can we make the candy last until then? More often than not, children will divide their treats in order to enjoy a few pieces a day.

    For both parents and children, Halloween is a great time to learn how to self-regulate. When a surplus of candy is in the house, it’s easy to indulge in a delicious chocolate treat or two! Teaching children to enjoy their treats in moderation reminds parents to do the same as well!

    Here are some great articles to ensure a healthy and enjoyable Halloween!

    Dentist reveals worst candy for your child’s teeth
    Doing the Sugar Math for Halloween
    Tips for a safe and sane Halloween

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