the halloween treat update

November 5, 2014

halloween candy reportMany had questions and concerns on how giving out little toys, pencils and erasers might go with neighborhood kids. In our neighborhood there were more trick-or-treaters out than we’ve ever seen! It was a really nice surprise. Before we ventured out, we had fun passing out our own treats. All the kids that candidly responded to the receipt of the non-food treats had something positive to say…

“Cool! We get stuff!”

“Ooh! I like that game!”

After Ruby had given this one youngster a handful, he stood there waiting for more, asking, “Can I have that one too?” An older sister behind him said, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”

The children appeared to be pleased with the treats we gave. If they were disappointed, they didn’t let it show and that was encouraging; children (and even adults like me!) should be thankful, no matter how we might be inclined to ungratefully perceive it.

So how did we let our kids indulge with their own treats that night? For about 45 minutes after getting back home, they bathed in their candy stash. Brave is always the first to cut herself off, while Glow and Soul can stuff themselves silly. True was somewhere in the middle. Because of our schedule on Saturday, we weren’t able to offer the leftover candy at snack, but instead offered it post-dinner. We plan to periodically offer unlimited sweets at future snack times as RD and therapist Ellyn Satter suggests.

This may seem like a completely careless approach, but there’s definitely a thoughtful strategy here. Taking a step backwards, Satter has a “Division of Responsibility in Feeding.” For toddlers on up, the parent is responsible for what, when and where… the child is responsible for how much and whether. So we as parents actually have a lot of control here in what foods are introduced, and when and where mealtimes take place. (I think one of the challenges for us parents is trusting children to do their part!) So, I want to emphasize that the free-for-all candy episodes are a part of a larger method that’s been well-thought out.

These principles may appear counter-intuitive. They take practice and patience. Ruby and I are NOT experts and do a good deal of failing as parents at mealtimes. But there is progress as we experiment and learn.

A related tangent I just thought of yesterday that I’d like to add. I plan to work with our girls on eating mindfully… inviting them to patiently engage all of their senses as they savor the food. So as we allow intermittent opportunities to go bonkers with candy, I will also be introducing mindful eating principles as they consume the sweet, lo-nu treats. (See, it’s a learning process!)

halloween candy report

8 comments on “the halloween treat update”

  • Alison Corbett says:

    I think this is a great idea, I know my daughter would love a toy and then you don’t have a bunch of leftover candy as well. You inspired me to go out right after Halloween and grab up a bunch of toys and non candy items- they were so cheap after Halloween.

  • sarah vine says:

    My daughter was the only one out of 3 kids to go trick-or-treating this year, her choice (we don’t celebrate halloween as a family) with the condition that she would divide her ‘takings’ with her brothers when she got home. The rest of us carried on with our ‘family fun day’ watching videos in the tent, and letting neighborhood kids help themselves to the giant basket of treats on the front step. (I have one son with fear issues, in a nutshell.) When she got back, the erasers and mini toys that she collected were her FAVORITES and she carefully gathered them before sharing the candy! Little squishy mice, googly eyes with a rubber band to wear, pencils, sticky moustaches. Favorites. =0)

    • Rubyellen says:

      So happy to hear! I think the non-sweet toys are a nice surprise when children are used to getting loads of candy.

  • YD says:

    Although for you it is a choice (which I think is a great one- the craft gifts are the biggest hits in our house as well), it reminds me of the Teal Pumpkin Project. Some children cannot have candy, and so houses that offer non-candy alternatives allow all kids to participate in Halloween and get to enjoy their loot!

  • Kelly says:

    Have you guys read, “French Kids Eat Everything”? I just read it this fall and a lot of the ideas sound similar to things Ben mentioned in these last couple of posts. The part about eating mindfully is something totally fascinating!

    • Rubyellen says:

      We haven’t read that one. That might make for an interesting read. I did read Raising Up Bebe, or some French book titled similarly, and a lot of parenting styles and methods the French use, is similar to things we were already doing. It’s interesting that their food philosophy seems to be also similar.

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