Halloween Candy Is Ruining My Discipline Tricks

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Friends make fun of me, but I’ve finally created a “junk food” policy that works for my family: my candy-obsessed boys are entitled to one special treat every Friday night, post-dinner. It sounds all rigid and uptight, but it’s not. Because even with this policy in effect, my 6-year-old averages around a dozen or so “treats” per week.

There’s the birthday cake at his classmates’ countless birthday parties; the trips to our local bakery, where the owner hands out sprinkled cookies the minute we walk through the door; the “carpool” treats (everything from chocolate bars to one-bite brownies). I’m telling you, my kid eats enough junk food each week to feed a small village; I can’t imagine what he’d consume if I didn’t limit it somewhat. (Actually, I can imagine it. I used to let him eat whatever, whenever, and he vomited on more than one occasion.)

Which explains why Halloween is a bit of a nightmare in the discipline department. You try explaining to a small child that the 80 or so chocolate bars and lollipops splayed out in front of him – the ones he so proudly collected himself – aren’t really his. Or that they are his but that he can only have one at a time so that he doesn’t get a tummy ache. (Even I know this but, hello, I’m the queen of overindulgence – especially when the kids are in bed and it’s cold outside and all I want to do is curl up on the couch, watch The Rachel Zoe Project and devour an entire bag of Reese minis. Because I’m an adult, no one stops me.)

Last Halloween we tried telling him that he could eat one candy every Friday until they ran out. (My husband and I sped up the process by sneaking some for ourselves.) This sounded alright in theory, but then every time he’d see the stash he’d get hysterical (we tried divvying it all up but he’s no dummy). Then he’d flip out every day after school, claiming that his classmates got “four chocolate bars each” for dessert, and why can’t he? I did the usual, “I’m your Mommy and I’m only concerned with what you do, not what your friends do,” to which he’d scream and cry and tell me I’m the worst mother ever. Then, when Friday would come around, he’s spend 20 minutes deliberating which “treat” to have, in which time his little brother, then 1, would scream, “CANDY! CANDY! CANDY!” and get all red-faced and hysterical to the point that I thought that something was truly wrong.

It’s times like these that I’ll take a step back and wonder why on earth I’m being so strict in the first place. I mean, is an extra chocolate bar really going to hurt anyone? So I’ll shout, “Fine! Have whatever you want! I don’t care!” only to be met with an urgent, “Ohmigod, Mommy, I’m going to throw up!” 20 minutes later. You’d think that my guy would remember vomiting 12 hours later while begging for more junk food, but that has yet to happen. So I’m once again torn between being the Grinch who stole Halloween and, well, a free-spirited mom who says, “Go ahead, indulge, my love.”

I’ve got 10 days to come up with a new, fool-proof system. Tips, anyone?

(Photo: camilla$$/Shutterstock)


  1. goddess

    October 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Let him indulge a little more but with similar stipulations, after all, it is the holidays. Tell him he can have a piece or (two pieces if you’re feeling really indulgent!) of candy every night after dinner. The caveat is he has to drink an entire glass of water and then immediately go brush his teeth. Then have him pick out the candies for two weeks for after dinner, and then take him to the local children’s hospital or shelter and have him donate the rest of the bag to less fortunate children.

  2. xobolaji

    October 21, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    hilarious! and omg i’m glad i don’t have a similar problem. my 6yo is very disciplined about candy, and she certainly doesn’t get this from me. i devour rockets until i get the stomach ache while she can eat a few, save the rest, and days later pick up on the fact she actually has candy “saved!”

    once upon a time i’d eat a few chocolate bars in one sitting and then i wouldn’t. it’s not a binge-thing per se, but sometimes a mom just feels like eating candy like a kid. and so i do. no big deal.

    i think with children there are fine lines. sometimes our bodies ‘crave’ sugar and ‘crave’ fat, salt, etc. i’ve rationalized that when we do want those things it’s an indication that we’re low in those things. my girls eat lots of fruit so i think this is what seems to satisfy the sugary craving. ditto for fats.

    i’ve never used food as a treat, ever. food is food. some things are certainly healthier and better than others, but when you start setting up food as a “reward” to be had on “special occasions” kids will go ballistic. I sometimes buy store-bought cookies, and sometimes we bake our own. My point is that we have to “trust” that their little bodies will know when they’ve had enough. we have to “trust” that their bodies will remind them of the good and so-called bad things that transpire when/if they eat too much or too little. I liken this to breastfeeding on demand; when you allow babies to “self-regulate” they learn to trust their instincts about food and what kinds of foods give them pleasure and how often they want to eat that particular food.

    also, have you ever noticed how dessert is a big thing in some households? so a kid decides he doesn’t want to eat his broccoli and parents say, “NO ICE CREAM!” Ii think that’s wack! why? well, because how many times have we as adults decided to forgo the “proper meal” and eat a jelly donut instead? it’s normal and natural to want to satisfy the taste that you want at the exact moment you want it. let them eat the broccoli after!

    my suggestion? forget the friday night treat-thing. let him have random candy whenever you think it’s a good time for “random” candy. Or ensure that he’s able to enjoy a variety of fruit with different tastes to satisfy that sweet craving. eventually the novelty of candy will wear off, or it won’t [mine certainly never did!] but at least he will not over-focus on the candy thing. Good luck momma!

  3. Rebecca

    October 23, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I think it all depends on your kid. If you say your son will eat it till he throws up then yeah, restrict it, though making him wait til Friday for one piece seems a bit cruel when we’re talking about Halloween candy:) I remember running into the family room with my brother and sister and dumping our hauls on the carpet. Then we’d sit and watch Halloween movies while bartering nerds for Laffy taffy and eat candy til we fell asleep. Since there was never any puking involved I guess my parents didn’t need to control the Candy situation. My kids are still young, only 2 and 3, so I will be controlling the stash for now,but if they ask for a piece they can have one. And I do mean one. Usually a simple, “no you can’t have another piece because candy isn’t good for us. If we eat to much we’ll get sick and it doesn’t make us big and wash that down with a carrot stick.” works for me.

  4. Pingback: 10-Year-Old Boy Pulls Gun On Woman Who Joked She’d Take His Halloween Candy | Mommyish

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