As parents know, the first few years of trick or treating on Halloween are precious. Trick or treating allows us to dress up in fun costumes, enjoy Halloween lights and decorations, marvel at expertly-carved jack o’ lanterns, and stroll around festive neighborhoods with our children. Children usually venture out on Halloween without their parents as they approach adolescence, but parents still enjoy decorating the house and handing out candy.
The candy itself, though, can be a problem. It’s not difficult for children to bring home bags, buckets, and pillowcases of candy on Halloween night. Needless to say, that means a lot of sugar– and a lot of challenges for good dental hygiene.
Giving Up (Some) Candy
Kids often feel accomplished at the end of a trick or treating session. After all, they went door to door, smiled at strangers, said a catchphrase, smiled again, and thanked the strangers for their kindness. They earned that candy by being cute and polite!
Therefore, it’s tempting for them to eat all of the candy. Some kids, if given half the chance, will eat enough candy to make them sick. If they’re sick to their stomach, what kind of damage do you think it’s doing to their teeth?
This is not an ideal scenario.
Asking your children to part with all of their hard-earned candy is a difficult battle, and it’s one you might not win without some seriously hurt feelings.
Instead, I recommend asking them to choose a set amount of favorite pieces of candy to keep, and then donating the rest to a good cause. Your kids can help someone else and still have some candy to snack on. Even if they keep a fraction of the Halloween candy they collect, it’s still more candy all at once then they get the rest of the year, right?
Most kids love helping people, unless it’s time to mow the lawn. Let them help you find the perfect person or organization to donate most of their Halloween candy to, so they can feel empowered and be part of the process.
Here are a few ideas:
- Your local Fire Station – Our firefighters risk their lives for us all the time, and they’d probably appreciate a little candy to munch on in between calls. Make sure you contact them first to see if they want the candy but, chances are, they will.
- Operation Gratitude – Click on this link to go to the Operation Gratitude website. They make it easy to package and ship your candy to them, and they’ll ship it to military service members who will truly appreciate the gift of Halloween candy.
- Any Soldier – This great program is similar to Operation Gratitude, but you can find an individual service member who is actively looking for a little more candy in their life. Why not brighten their day?
- Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth – Ronald McDonald House also accepts candy donations. Your Halloween candy will go to hospitalized children who are undergoing serious treatment. They usually can’t trick or treat themselves, but they’ll appreciate your children earning candy on their behalf.
Donating Halloween candy means less candy eaten– which means less sugar eaten. A piece of Halloween candy will last a ravenous child all of five seconds, but healthy teeth and a great smile will last them a lifetime. They can also brighten someone else’s day with the fruits of their Halloween labor.
That’s what I call a win/win scenario.
~Dr. Marea White