Halloween is rapidly approaching, and your children are already getting excited! Halloween ranks right at the top as far as favorite holidays go. Not only do children get to put on fun costumes, but they also get to collect lots of candy. What could be better?

As fun as Halloween can be for children, it can be a challenge for parents. As a parent, how do you keep the holiday fun, but make sure that your child does not overindulge when it comes to candy? Most experts agree that the first step is setting guidelines and expectations in advance of the special night.

A candy plan

  • After trick-or-treating, have your children spread their candy on a table or the floor. You can try one of these four approaches:
  • Let your child pick 10 favorite pieces to keep. Donate the rest of the candy to a senior citizen center, shelter or some other charitable organization.
  • Let your child trade their candy for a prize such as a toy, book or a fun event.
  • Let your child pick out two or three pieces of candy to have each day. Have them eat something healthy before they eat the candy.
  • Let your child pick a set amount of candy for the week. Once the week's allotment is gone, do not let your child fish back in the bag for more.

The key is to develop a system that works well in your home. Whichever approach you choose, make sure you and your child discuss and understand the plan before the big night. And if it works well, stick with it every year.

Some additional tips

Halloween does not have to scare off good nutrition habits. It just takes a little bit of planning and some dedication on your part. To help Halloween be a more healthful time, follow these tips:

  • Serve kids a healthy dinner before trick-or-treating. Make sure the meal includes food that they like. This way, they will be full and less tempted to fill up on candy.
  • Offer trick-or-treaters something other than candy. Although it is tempting to give a piece of fruit, like an apple, this is not a good idea. Fruit is difficult for a parent to check for tampering. Instead, give them colorful pencils, stickers or large erasers.
  • Set guidelines about how much candy your children can have. Consider limiting the number of houses they go to, or how much time they can spend in a particular place. Have a set number of days that candy can remain in the house before it gets thrown out. Determine how much candy they can have each day or each week.
  • Children should not snack while they are trick-or-treating. Make sure your children understand that you need to check all the treats at home before any are eaten.
  • Watch for signs of tampering. These include small pinholes in wrappers and torn or loose packages.

Parents of young children should get rid of choking hazards. These include gum, peanuts, hard candies and small toys.

One additional candy tip: Try not to reward your child's good behavior with candy or punish bad behavior by withholding candy. Use non-candy things, like a trip to the park or new crayons, to acknowledge good behavior.