halloween kids

Why I let my kids eat all the Halloween candy they want

31 October 2011

Am I crazy? Or crazy like a fox? Here’s why I let my kids eat all the Halloween candy they want:

  1. Kids get way too much Halloween candy, and this is my way of getting rid of it early. If I doled out one or two pieces at a time, they’d still be hoarding a stash in March. (As for sneaking some into the trash – they’d know.)
  2. The fourth piece of candy never tastes as good as the first. I put out a trash bag and tell the kids to toss anything they don’t like. The more they eat, the less they like, the more gets tossed. Sweets that get parceled out slowly will always be more delicious for their scarcity.
  3. Too much candy gives you a stomachache. Kids don’t believe this until they’ve experienced it.
  4. Kids learn good lessons about self-control, excessive behavior, and instant vs delayed gratification. To me, giving them an opportunity to learn fundamental life lessons is worth putting up with a few hours of sugar-fueled mania.
  5. It’s good for me as a parent to practice letting go. When the kids leave home, they’ll have to make their own decisions and accept the consequences. Starting this lesson with candy is harmless compared with tougher situations ahead.
  6. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a small amount of candy every day is a sure ticket to the dentist. A few days of sugar excess is less damaging to the kids’ dental health.
  7. Kids love having one day to indulge with abandon. It’s Halloween, after all, and childhood is brief.

What do you think? What do you do?

Happy Halloween, everyone! Stay warm out there.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Lexi 31 October 2011 at 11:14 am

I don’t have any kids but from experience with my own parents, what you’re saying is true! My parents never withheld food or had food rules for me… I’ve grown to have a healthy lifestyle with amazing self-control. They were quite strict with TV, and when I left for college, I wasted all precious study time watching bad re-runs.


cg 4 November 2011 at 5:31 pm

thanks lexi, i appreciate you sharing your experience. we do have a “no electronics during the week” rule and feel a bit conflicted when the kids make up for it on the weekends. but hopefully they’re getting it out of their system. =P


BK 31 October 2011 at 12:22 pm

I thought you were crazy until I saw the strategy in action. Now I am a believer.


MM 1 November 2011 at 3:10 am

Very wise, cg! I think the important thing is to lead by example, rather than outlawing sugar, junk food, etc. Anything ‘forbidden’ instantly becomes an obsession with kids, and we’re not always around to police them so the earlier they learn a bit of self-control the better!


cg 4 November 2011 at 5:24 pm

so true!


gc 12 December 2011 at 1:26 am

dude, totally like a fox…


Shelly Braden 7 April 2012 at 6:21 am

I know I am late responding – but I just found this blog. Love it!!!

I agree with your strategy regarding Halloween candy. I allow the kids to eat as MUCH as they want the night of Halloween and the next day. By that time they are sick of it – if there is any left. Giving them a piece or two a day creates just too much work for me! This way, it is done and I don’t have to worry about it. Plus, they learn the reason why everything in moderation. Btw – my mom always said – “whatever you withhold from a child, they will seek it out in excess once they are out of your house.” She was soooooooooo right!

Regarding the TV…. We do “screen time” in our house. The kids get 5.5 hours of screen time per week (this includes kids shows on TV, XBox, DSi, and “play time” on the computer – we don’t count time for homework or family movie time). If they do all of their chores, etc…they can earn another 90 minutes. We dole it out on Sunday afternoon. It has worked extremely well – except yesterday when my 14 yr old decided to use his full 7 hours on XBOX and neglected washing his bed linens that he had removed from the bed. Needless to say, he had no clean bed linens and I found him sleeping wrapped up in his bedspread. Not acceptable…. So, today’s consequence – he gets to do EVERYONE’s laundry.


cg 7 April 2012 at 7:17 am

hi shelly – you made me laugh! good for you. i love your screen time plan, especially your enforcement of it. laughing about your 14-year-old sleeping in his bedspread with no sheets. and your mom’s philosophy is exactly my mom’s too. =)


Linda 19 November 2012 at 12:55 pm

Hi CG,

I stumbled on your blog through The Kitchn, and your recipe for Balsamic Vinaigrette! I am now an email follower, and can’t wait to start hearing from you! I don’t have Halloween candy problems anymore, since my baby is 28, but I love your take on the candy and kids. Sometimes it’s hard to let go as a mom, and to avoid that “I have to be the perfect mom and my kids have to be perfect kids” syndrome! When I first became a mom in the mid-60s (I was a very young child, lol), I remember that no matter how late we got home from a visit on the weekend, my kids HAD to be changed into their pajamas, even if they had fallen asleep in the car on the way home. They would be cranky, end up wide awake, and the day would end badly for all of us. When I learned to loosen up a little, the sleeping little ones were carried into their beds, shoes, belts, etc, removed, and sometimes jeans, depending on the weather, covered up and allowed to continue sleeping. Boy, did live become simpler after that!

So happy I’ve found you!

xo Linda


cg 26 November 2012 at 1:34 am

hi linda – oops, somehow missed approving this comment earlier! so glad to hear from you. i agree with you 100% on letting go of strict ideas of how parenting should work. it takes time to learn…which is why the first kid has the tough role of being the one to break the parents in, and the later kids benefit from having a more relaxed home environment. =P thanks so much for reading and commenting, and i am so pleased to have you as a subscriber and hope to hear from you often!


Amy 16 July 2013 at 9:57 pm

It’s an interesting strategy and I do see a lot of truth in reverse psychology – letting them have it so they can learn not to want it so much. But honestly, I’m not sure it’s a good way to learn self-control, at least not in my experience. My parents let me have all the sweets I wanted and now I have more cavities than I care for. My mom loves packaged junk food herself, but she didn’t eat sweets (a lot of old Chinese don’t). I eat sweets every day and at any given day, I can totally overdue it on chocolate. My parents also had 5 televisions in the home and in college, I spent a year blowing off classes just so I can watch all the movies I wanted. I spent so many years studying my brains out just so I could get a scholarship to an Ivy League school, such that when I got there, I got tired, lost and just wanted to live like everybody else instead of living up to my parents’ expectations of me.

Likewise, my husband’s father drank every day, every evening. Excessive alcohol consumption was an accepted way of life, was not considered a “bad” thing and “addiction” was not in his parents’ vocabulary. My husband did the same until I told he had to stop or I’m packing his things. Now he’s trying to figure out what to do with his life/himself without drinking. One day we will have to talk to the kids about it.

We learn by example, not by temporary indulgence or restraint. If we don’t like candy, don’t serve it, don’t crave it, our kids won’t either. We can let them eat it, but what stays with them is whether or not candy is a part of their parents’ life. For me, it’s a constant struggle to undo all my bad habits so my kids will grow up better than me…


Sarah 22 March 2015 at 6:54 am

I agree with Amy. I don’t think letting them go for the kill on the first night is teaching them self control, especially on a school night! I’m the one that ends up having to stay home with a kid who feels nauseated in the morning. I find that if my kids eat too much, they want more and more. I like to let them have some on Halloween, have them brush straight after, and then bribe them with the rest of it for months! (Chores, homework, being kind to each other all day and learning a foreign language). I let them pick 3 out of a bag and they brush straight after. I think this will help them develop a life skill of deterred gratification. I guess I’m one of those mothers (practical, intentional and a little unpopular at times:(


cg 25 March 2015 at 12:13 pm

hi sarah – i agree, there’s no right answer! our kids are so supervised these days, i think it’s good for them to try out their own limit-setting while they’re still at home (ie before they go to college and i’m not around to help with the consequences). candy seems as innocuous vice as any to learn the benefit of moderation. thanks so much for sharing your insights here!


Chloe 1 November 2015 at 9:01 pm

My parents let me keep only 15 pieces a year… lucky kids! This year I got 447 pieces (I counted.) Sure, I have severe ADHD (In kinder, I went around kissing the boys and randomly screaming when the teacher was trying to teach… still wish I could get away with that without my Social Studies teacher making me call my parents!) and my lil’ sister has ADD, I think. But my brother doesn’t have anything (he’s 25 now) and he only got to keep the amount of his age! We have to donate the rest. πŸ™


cg 6 November 2015 at 1:22 pm

wow, chloe, you raked it in this year! pace yourself. πŸ˜‰


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