When Halloween night arrives, the excitement in the air is palpable. Kids, young and old, eagerly put on their costumes, ready to embark on the timeless tradition of trick-or-treating. But once the bags and buckets are filled to the brim with Halloween candy, parents often find themselves asking, “What do we do with all this candy?!”
There are a few different approaches for parents to manage the sugar rush (and inevitable crash) that comes along with Halloween Candy.
Let’s talk about the Switch Witch and creating healthy boundaries with candy (without demonizing the delicacies and creating a food complex). Both provide great solutions for keeping the magic alive while maintaining a balanced approach to all those treats.
What’s a 'Switch Witch'?
The Switch Witch is a make-believe character who loves Halloween just as much as kids do. This magical witch comes out to play on Halloween night (or later that week). She visits your home to check out all the candy spoils from your child’s night of trick-or-treating.
The idea is simple: rather than consume all of the sweets, kids leave some of their Halloween candy out as a gift for the Switch Witch, and in return, the witch “switches” their candy for a non-food treat—like a small toy or book— to show her appreciation.
What Kind of Toys Does the Switch Witch Bring?
One of the best parts of the Switch Witch tradition is the excitement of discovering what the witch leaves behind in place of their candy stash. (If your kiddo has already lost teeth and was excited about the Tooth Fairy, the Switch Witch concept usually does well, too.)
Parents can get creative here and work within their budget—think goody bag items, not Santa Claus-level items. Some suggestions are small toys like a Hotwheels car or mini Legos, stickers, glow sticks, or fidget spinners. Usually, any small surprise that feels novel to your kiddo will do the trick. It’s a win-win: children still get a treat, and parents can feel better about providing an alternative.
The Nuance of Handling Halloween Candy Through the Switch Witch
The key to a successful Switch Witch experience is communication. Children should be informed about the plan and involved in the process. This way, they learn about the importance of moderation and the importance of sharing — all while still enjoying the magic of Halloween night.
In your discussion of the Switch Switch, be very clear that she is not “stealing” candy, but rather your children are giving it to her as a “gift”. The Switch Witch shows her gratitude by responding to the child’s generosity in kind. Her thank-you gift is in the form of a toy or trinket.
An Alternative to the Switch Witch
In our house, we let our kids eat as much as they choose on Halloween night while teaching them to mindfully listen to their bellies in between each piece. We talk about what it tastes like, what different textures we experience — crunchy, chewy, gooey, etc. — and what we like or don’t like about them.
After Halloween night, we put one piece of candy on their plate for dinner every night for one week. Do they sometimes complain that they want more? Of course. But, they also know that one piece is what’s on the menu, and that they can expect to see it every night.
At the end of the week, we give our children the option to either trade in their Halloween candy stash for a small toy or continue with the plan of one piece of candy at dinner. Last year, our oldest opted to have a daily Halloween treat, but our youngest was content with the mini Hot Wheels set we offered. Both children made their choices with the understanding that we'd now be going back to our usual weekly meal plan; cookies, cakes or sweets are only on the menu a couple of times a week.
The Switch Witch is an Option, Not an Obligation
While the Switch Witch tradition has become increasingly popular as parents look for ways to limit their children’s candy intake, it’s still important to consider that every family and every child is different and what works for one may not work for another.
Some parents believe that Halloween is a day for children to eat lots of candy and they don’t want to take away this pleasure. Others might worry that introducing the concept of “switching” candy sends mixed messages about food.
Most parents would agree, however, that the ultimate goal is to help our kiddos avoid sugar overload while still savoring the sweet magic of Halloween.
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