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Binge, barter or bribe: How should you parcel out your kids' Halloween haul?

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Summary

Experts suggests letting kids go crazy on the Halloween candy after they come home from trick or treating

After initial post-trick-or-treat sugar intake, you could start scaling down the amount of sweets per day

TORONTO (NEWS 1130) – Tomorrow night, your kids are likely to come home with oodles of candy and chocolate and deciding how to best administer that sugary stockpile can become a headache for many parents.

Do you let them binge, barter to get some of it back, or limit access?

There’s actually a pretty firm consensus from dieticians, says Today’s Parent magazine managing editor Kim Shiffman.

“That night and maybe even the next day, let them go crazy and eat what they want,” she says.

“That’s actually a surprising and maybe even counterintuitive suggestion that we got from even the experts. They say you don’t want to become the treat police that just creates a power struggle. Kids do need to learn how to regulate themselves.”

She admits some parents may be uncomfortable with that strategy.

“The experts really do recommend that letting them do that, it gets it out of their system and if they get a stomach ache, then they’ve learned something and maybe next time they’ll be a little more careful,” says Shiffman.

And after that initial sugar intake, you can start to scale things down.

“Start by making a ‘keep’ and ‘don’t keep’ pile. You want to remove anything that your kids are allergic to or maybe it just doesn’t excite them that much. Maybe it’s minty or it’s a hard candy they don’t love. Anything that they don’t keep, you can bring it to your office or you can freeze it to use for baking, or using on the gingerbread house at Christmas,” says Shiffman.

Or you can channel your inner CEO and take them to the bargaining table.

“And then you become the switch-witch,” explains Shiffman. “You offer to switch the remainder of the candy with a toy, a pre-determined toy or something from a catalogue or website. You take all that candy, get it out of the house, they get a toy and everyone is happy.”

For older kids, you could instead try straight cash.

And after that, what’s left can be parcelled out when appropriate.

“The treats become something kids can have when they also eat something healthy, so maybe it’s desert after a balanced meal. Or it can go in the lunch bag at school along with veggies and fruit. For many kids, the excitement will actually then fizzle out and they’ll kind of forget about the candy especially if you just keep it out of site,” says Shiffman.

But remember, like a birthday, it only happens once a year.

“Halloween is really one night of the year. If you’re feeding your kids a balanced, healthy diet for the rest of the year, you really don’t have to stress that much over this one-shot deal.”