Every year, I read the various posts about how to manage the Halloween haul and figure out my approach. This year, I've decided that I'm not going to worry about it. I have a plan that I developed with my kids, who are three and six years old. It's different from last year, and the year before that, and it may be different next year. And, as I've learned, just as I adapt and change as we go, so do my kids.
The thing is: kids change. Little kids get bigger and understand more about what others around them are doing. Big kids get bigger, and you can't control them, and their food enviroment anymore. When it comes to food, my kids are very different from each other. My six year old daughter nibbles her way through a small breakfast and then is satisfied till lunch; my three year old son has two breakfasts and a morning snack and can't wait till lunch. My daughter will spend 10 minutes slowly eating a small piece of chocolate, savoring it and enjoying it. My son will jam the whole thing in his mouth in less than 2 seconds and immediately want more.
When my daughter was very little, we took her to a few houses on Halloween, she picked up a couple pieces of candy, she wasn't interested in eating any of them and then we threw them away. She didn't even notice. Last year, my kids went up and down the streets near our house, came back with a decent amount of candy and, as they sorted and organized it, I was more involved in telling them what was "better" (chocolate) and not as "good" (pure sugar, or sugar-like products, with lots of food dyes). This year, I'm going to try and take a real hands-off approach and let them explore their haul, and manage their own intake, with some agreed upon guidelines on how much they can have each day.
I've taken a different approach every year, only consistently always sticking to my word. I've never told them they can eat it and then thrown it away or denied it to them. I always (try) to do what I say, not just when it comes to candy on Halloween. What I've learned is that, just like our kids change, so do the rules. Figure out what works best for you and your kids, give it a try and don't worry - you can try it a different way next year. You aren't going to damage your kids. Just talk to your kids about what and why you are handling it the way you are and stick to your word. Next week, talk to them and discuss how it went and what you may want to do differently next time. And don't forget to enjoy the dressing up, walking around outside, meeting the neighbors and building your community, all equally important parts of the Halloween celebration.
If you want to read more, check out these great Halloween posts:
It's Not About the Nutrition
Simply Wholesome Kitchen