Perhaps it stems from my first year as a teacher. The tradition at the school was to have a Halloween buffet. Each student in the second grade brought a treat to share. There were five second grade classes, so approximately 100 students brought in enough sweets and treats to cover several long tables. The kids were each given a large plate and were allowed to take as much as they wanted. (Yes, really!)
The fallout was just as you might expect, an afternoon of complete and total insanity. I was completely incredulous as to why any teacher would welcome this tradition!!
The effects of sugar on children are well known by teachers and parents alike. So, how do we keep Halloween fun, without having to deal with massive sugar highs, or drastic sugar crashes?
Pair candy with protein and fiber. Sugar on its own causes a quick sugar spike and later a sugar crash, which leads to a craving for... more sugar. Protein and fiber help the body to better metabolize the sugar. (Ex: As an after school snack, give your child a cheese stick, apple slices, and a piece of their Halloween candy.)
Decide when and how much candy your kids can have each day. One a day? One with lunch? One as a snack? One after dinner? Discuss the plan with your children and discuss the reasons for your choices. This will keep them from asking for candy all day long.
Nip sneaking candy in the bud. When my daughter was four, she was going through a "sneaky" phase. I caught her sneaking candy and told her that if I caught her again, I would throw away her whole bag of candy. I truly never thought that I would have to carry through with my threat. However, a few days later, I found multiple candy wrappers under her bed. I threw her whole bag away. She has never forgotten it and uses the story as a warning to her brothers. I have never had to deal with the problem since.
Notice how your children react to sugar and discuss their reactions and how they feel, with them. Do your kids have trouble going to sleep at night if they have candy for dessert? Do they have trouble concentrating on their homework after having a sugary treat? My daughter is very sensitive to sugar, and has become aware of the way it makes her feel when she has too much. When she would start acting aggressively or would become overly emotional after too much sugar, I would point out that it was the sugar making her feel that way. If she has a day where she has had too much, she will now ask for some "healthy food," to help her feel better.
Reduce your candy supply. A huge stash is terribly tempting (I can't resist it myself!!) My parents used to allow us to pick a certain number of pieces of candy and they would then pay us for the rest. If your children are young, you can probably take a few pieces a day from the stash without them noticing and they will just recognize that the overall supply is dwindling. There are also many dentists who will weigh your child's candy, pay them for it, by the pound, and then send the remainder to deployed servicemen and women. You could also let them use the candy to make a craft (once it's covered with glue, it won't taste very good!) or freeze the candy (if you have the willpower to let it be) and save it for use in holiday cookies or treats. I also found a great idea at Creative Family Moments for using candy in science experiments and another idea for bowling with candy at The Golden Gleam.
How do you handle the Halloween aftermath in your home? I'd love to hear your tips and suggestions in the comments.