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Boo! Why Halloween is a ghoulishly great teaching opportunity

Health

Boo! Why Halloween is a ghoulishly great teaching opportunity

The night is fast approaching when your favorite ghouls return home, their bags groaning with treasure. Although the specter of rambunctious kids munching lots of candy at once can be a bit fear-inspiring for parents, Halloween can also be a great opportunity to teach important life lessons.
“Halloween is an exciting holiday for children,” says Dr. Lucretia Carter, a pediatrician with Tidelands Health Pediatrics in Myrtle Beach. “It’s also the perfect time to for them to learn important  skills, such as how to handle temptations like sweets.”
Here are a few ways to help your eager trick-or-treater navigate the crush of all that candy while taking away lessons that will help them as they get older:

Sort their haul

When your trick-or-treater gets home, have them go through their candy bag. Teach them to toss damaged, open or questionable items. Then divide their bounty into two mounds: what they love and what they can live without.
“This way, your child learns to be selective and not eat something just because it’s there,” Dr. Carter says. “Encourage them to share or trade what they don’t like with a friend or sibling.”

Cause and effect

Gobbling to much candy in one night generally isn’t a long-term health concern, but it may produce a tummy ache. If that happens to your little zombie, take the time to ask them what they think caused it to help them connect overdoing things with the results. And don’t worry about a “sugar high.” Research has shown that it’s a myth.

Forbidden fruit

Rather than single-handedly create rules for how much candy your child can eat and when, involve your child in the process.
“Portraying candy as bad can end up amplifying the desire for it, especially if it turns into a kind of ‘forbidden fruit,’” Dr. Carter says. “By allowing your child to help set expectations for their candy consumption, you can help them better understand the concept of moderation. Plus, they’re much less likely to fuss since they’ve participated in the process.”
If your Halloween hoarder does manage to keep their candy until spring, don’t fret. Properly packaged, most candy will stay good for six months or more.

COVID-19 safety

The pandemic is still haunting us, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given the “ghoul-ahead” to Halloween this year — with a few key safety recommendations. For example, the agency encourages trick-or-treaters to stay outside as much as possible where fresh air can limit the spread of COVID-19. It’s also best to avoid large gatherings and keep the size of your child’s trick-or-treating crew small.

Social skills

Beyond all those mini Snickers, Tootsie Rolls and Smarties, Halloween has another important role to play in children’s lives.
“Trick-or-treating is a great time for children to learn important social cues, such as how to knock on doors, how to speak to adults and how to say ‘thank you,’” Dr. Carter says. “While they’re focused on the candy, you can enjoy watching them develop their social skills.”

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