By Rona Renner, RN
Question from a mom with children ages 3, 5, and 8: I want to make Halloween special for my children, but I also want them to be healthy and not greedy or grabby. I find Halloween a challenge to balance these values. Can you help!
Answer: One goal in raising children is to move to middle ground parenting while setting limits. It’s important that children have fun and be creative, and it’s up to parents to set guidelines and communicate values to keep them safe and healthy.
Your children can have an exciting and memorable Halloween while learning some manners, getting lots of exercise walking door-to-door, and keeping cavities at bay.
Starting at a young age you can teach children to say “Happy Halloween” as a person opens the door and to say “Thank you” when they get a treat. Children are often
amazed that neighbors give them candy, and are excited about dressing up with family or friends. Afterwards kids love coming back home to count, exchange, and share their treasures.
Here are some ways parents set limits on Halloween.
- Tell you children that they can eat as much candy as they want (within reason) for three days, and then whatever is left will be given away. Most dentists suggest that you not spread the candy eating out over many weeks.
- Try letting them eat ten pieces on Halloween and then one or two pieces each day for one week.
- You can let your child eat some candy and then have them turn the rest into mom or dad in exchange for a small prize or a fun night out.
- Some families don’t go trick-or-treating but have a fun Halloween party instead.
Be sure to discuss the rules ahead of time to avoid any surprises that might ruin the fun. How you set limits will be based on your child’s age, temperament, health, and values. Once you set the limits beware of strong willed children who will try and talk you out of them. When your children beg for more sweets or cry to stay up late, just stay calm. Instead of getting angry or yelling remind them of the limits that you put fourth in a calm manner. Let them know that you understand, but rules are rules. Have fun with your kids and stay close to them as they venture out into the world of ghosts & goblins.
Nurse Rona is the host of Childhood Matters radio show, a nurse for 45 years, a temperament specialist, mother of four, and grandmother of two. To hear previous shows, go to www.childhoodmatters.org, and tune in Sundays 7-8AM on 98.1 KISSFM. She is also available to do individual temperament consultations, parent coaching, and workshops.