We face the same problem with Halloween candy every year. I don’t know why it continues to surprise me . . .
I immediately began to panic . . . how could my children actually want that much candy? Do they have an eating disorder? Have I deprived my children of too much sugar, fueling their desperate craving for anything sweet? Will they ever be able to moderate their sweet intake by themselves? How have I failed as a mother? And what about the dental bills?
All of this and more swirled through my head and I reacted the way I often do when I feel out of control . . . I grabbed for the very control I lacked.
“You CANNOT eat all of that candy. No Way! Give me that right now.”
I reached out for the pillowcases but (surprise, surprise) they did not land lovingly in my hands.
Instead, my daughter said, “I worked hard for this loot! You can’t take it from me!”
And as a result, the old familiar power struggle ensued.
So this year, I’m going to get ahead of the pillowcases.
By making agreements.
Agreements are such a powerful Positive Discipline parenting tool. They help us get in front of the problem moments, so that those moments are fewer and farther between, and pass with far less drama.
Here’s my plan:
- During a calm time (this is very important), I’ll invite my children to help make a plan about Trick-or-Treating.
- I’ll ask them to share their feelings about Halloween candy. “I noticed that last year we had some conflict about the candy. I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you’d like to do this year with your candy.”
- Then I will shut my mouth and listen to their thoughts, feelings, and perspective. I’ll validate their feelings, “I hear you. You don’t get a lot of candy and it is a once-a-year opportunity!”
- Then I’ll (succinctly) share my feelings: “My concern is that too much candy is unhealthy. How can we find a win/win this year?”
- Then we will brainstorm solutions — every idea, no matter how ridiculous, will get written down.
- Then we will select a solution we can all agree on. I’ll let them cross out ideas they can’t live with. Then I’ll cross out the ideas I can’t live with. I’ll ask them to vote on the ideas that remain.
Before they head out in their League of Legends and Bat Cat costumes, I’ll ask them, “Hey guys, what was our agreement for trick or treating?” When they play it back to me I’ll say, “Thanks for remembering. I trust you to follow through later.”
I’ll let you know how it goes!
Making agreements in this way does so much more than just get in front of the problem. It also teaches children how to solve problems: how to listen, take another person’s perspective, empathize, brainstorm, compromise, and follow through. Those are skills that will come in handy well beyond this holiday.
What are your ideas for managing the abundant sugar this Halloween? I’d love to hear them! Leave your comments below.