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12 Ways to Use Up Halloween Candy

Excess Easter, Valentine, or goody-bag treats, too

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If you're child's on a restricted diet, bounces off the wall with too much sugar, or just needs to avoid a long stay in the dentist's chair, big batches of high-calorie, high-sugar, hyper-loading sweet stuff can be a crisis. Rather than empty the trick-or-treat bag (or Easter basket, or goody bag) into the trash when the kids aren't looking -- or scarfing it all up yourself -- think about using those highly motivating but highly problematic goodies in a way that can make both you and your child happy. Here are a dozen for starters:

1. Buy the candy from your child.

Set a price list for different types of sweet, and have your child practice sorting, adding, and cashing in. Make the payments in actual money, if your child's saving up, or in tokens good for iPod tunes or TV time.

2. Let your child use candy for barter.

If your child balks at turning over all that candy, let her keep it -- but make it clear she can trade it in at any time, piece by piece, for skipped chores, special privileges, and other highly desirable items. You can even make up a poster listing exchange rates.

3. Add a sweet reward to your behavior program.

Rather than taking candy away for bad behavior, consider giving sugary points on a behavior chart for work done and goals met, to be cashed in for candy snacks. Or turn over a favorite treat spontaneously when you catch your kid being good.

4. Use the mighty morsels as homework motivators.

Break open a little bag or box of small candies when your child sits down to work, and give one for each line completed or each problem solved. Provide a bonus for neat work or independent endeavor.

5. Play hide and go eat.

Stash those little candy bars and make a game of it with your child, giving clues and stretching language skills as you get your little detective searching for sweets, playing Twenty Questions or doing physical challenges to get clues.

6. Grab some handy candy math counters.

No need to search for plastic pieces to explain math concepts. An M&M's a one, a Snickers bar's a ten, a KitKat's 100. Add, subtract, group, exchange, and spirit away for tomorrow's homework.

7. Donate the sweets to science.

Enhance learning with cool science experiments that use candy as materials (and destroy it in the process). Try candy chromatography, a Mentos geyser, or any of these other scientific uses.

8. Make candy into an art form.

Candy can be a craft supply: Have your child glue some on paper for a colorful mosaic; create a candy bouquet; or build a town of sweet structures.

9. Bake it into something everyone can share.

Need a fun reason to bake with your child? Recycle candy into cookies or cake or other treats. Then serve them at a party or playdate or family gathering, or give them to a relative or neighbor.

10. Use daily doses to mark time.

Use Halloween treats to fill an Advent calendar marking the days to Christmas ... or adapt that sweet-a-day idea to counting the days to vacation, or birthday, or any special event.

11. Make therapy a treat.

Providing a candy reward may help your child do something that's hard, like touch something unpleasant, crawl through something scary, or repeat a developing skill.

12. Practice some sweet charity.

Ask around your community, and you may find opportunities to donate those sweets to a charitable cause. Some groups collect candy to send to troops overseas, while the local food bank may like to offer something sweet to struggling families. Your child can feel good in a way that has nothing to do with a sugar rush.
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