Happy All Hallows Eve!
Tomorrow night we will be donning our best costumes, kids will be knocking down doors to fill their bags full of candy, and tales of ghouls and goblins will be shared as we celebrate Halloween! In honor of this frightfully fun night, I want to share a few tricks and treats to help your Halloween evening (and the rest of the year) run smoothly–not spooky!
Halloween is on Tuesday this year. This means that kids will be in costumes, running around outside, staying up way past bedtime, and eating pounds of sugary (albeit delicious!) candy on a school night. For most children and adolescents this is a once a year dream come true! For some parents and caregivers, this can be a dreadful night.
If Halloween, or any night of week, can be a grueling battle of behaviors with your kids and you feel beat, try a few of these tricks and treats:
Trick: Get Creative
So your child brings home a bag of candy overflowing with Starbursts, Milky Ways, and Snickers. They insist on eating every last Skittle before the night is over. You, as the informed parent or caregiver, know that this is not only an impossible feat, but also extremely unhealthy for a child to consume so much candy even over the course of a few days or weeks. You would love nothing more than to toss out the entire bag and curse the neighbor who handed out king size Kit Kat bars this year. Instead of fighting about the candy, get creative! Bargain with your kiddos: for every piece of chocolate we eat a grape or an apple slice too. Or to get even more creative, keep their candy bag or bowl in a common area. Compromise by allowing them to eat 1-2 pieces of candy each night, after the veggies have been consumed of course. Then, once they are tucked into bed, dispose of a few pieces of candy from the bowl each night. Steal a couple of pieces for yourself or discretely throw a couple of Tootsie Rolls away. This will gradually deplete the bowl without your child noticing a major difference. Creativity is key!
Treat: Bribe with Butterfingers
If Butterfingers don’t motivate your child you can bribe them with almost anything–if it is appealing to them. We are all bribed by something (i.e. money, companionship, coffee). Use that 5 pound bag of candy to your advantage here! Does your child loathe doing their homework? Do they throw a fit when asked to make their bed? Try increasing positive behaviors using bribery. Make homework fun & edible by counting with M&M’s. If the chores are completed on time, they earn a Hershey’s candy bar! Focus on using positive reinforcers (like candy) for desired behaviors as opposed to punishments and consequences. If this doesn’t come easy for you and your kids try using a simple behavior chart to outline expectations and their subsequent rewards!
Trick: Give the Kids Some Say
In the above examples I am assuming that your kids are motivated by Butterfingers or M&M’s. You too may be guilty of choosing the incentive or reward for your own children. Try giving them some say on what they can earn! What is appealing to adults may not be as equally appealing to children. If the reward is not directly motivating to the child then their behavior is unlikely to change. The trick here is two-fold. Your child feels empowered because they are making decisions for themselves, which is awesome! And now you no longer have to be the bad cop. If the incentive isn’t working or modifying their behaviors, they are held personally responsible because they chose the incentive in the first place! Holding children accountable for their behaviors is essential for increasing desired behaviors and decreasing unwanted behaviors.
Treat: Put Some Play in Your Day
Oftentimes kids may act out or become defiant when they need to express and release built up energy they’ve been holding in for the last 8 hours at school. Schedule some time to play. And play with your kids! Halloween is the perfect excuse to dress up, be silly, and have some playful fun with your child. (Check out these awesome family costume ideas for inspiration!) Find opportunities to join with your child by playing together. This can serve as a much needed break from the stressors of adulthood and a chance to build lasting memories with your kids. The power of play should not be underestimated!
So instead of dealing with scary screams and cranky cries when the kids have you feeling beat, try some of the above tricks and treats. And remember, all tricks aside, not having a daily battle with your kids is the sweetest treat of all!
Happy Halloween y’all!