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Halloween is many children’s favorite time of year. It’s a chance for them to dress up as anything their imagination can think of. It’s also a prime season for satisfying anyone’s big chocolate cravings. But how much candy is too much? There are many schools of thought when it comes to how much or how little you should interfere with the first few days of post-Halloween consumption. 

Most experts agree to not portray candy as a forbidden, taboo item. The human condition is such that we all want what we cannot have, and with children, it’s a concept that is even more exaggerated. Before the age of 6, children are making choices based on what is pleasant for them, all choices are based on the mindset of self and their own identity. The prefrontal cortex is nowhere near developed enough to make wise and practical decisions, so it’s your job as a parent to set parameters.

Even if you choose to follow a methodology that your kids will eventually just get tired of candy on their own, it’s still a good idea to set some ground rules in motion. Sometimes the bigger battles can be won by letting others think they’ve won the smaller fights. Set boundaries for how much candy you’re willing to let your kids eat each day and what time(s) you think it’s appropriate, as well as where it should be consumed. Then leave it up to them to take it from there. It’s a preparatory stage for adulthood to let your children trust their own instincts. It’s the only way they will be able to have confidence in their inner dialog as they grow older.

Another issue to keep in mind is how long to let the candy linger in your house. This can vary greatly by household, with some people choosing to keep it until it’s all gone, versus tossing it after a week or a month has gone by.

No matter what style of parenting you feel comfortable with, you owe it to your children and yourself to keep it consistent. Once you pick an approach, you should commit to it so you are relaying a clear message to your children. You always want them to see you as the kind of parent who means business and doesn’t just toss out idle threats that they don’t follow-up on. When you have the dignified respect of your children, enforcing rules like when to eat Halloween candy becomes easier because they know (hopefully) not to test you.