Halloween Candy

How The 'Switch Witch' Can Make Halloween Candy Fun Again For Everyone

Maintain the fun aspects of Halloween without the sugar crash.

Originally Published: 
A kid wearing a batman costume and carrying an orange bag holds his moms hand while trick or treatin...
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Halloween is equally beloved and dreaded by most Americans. It barely cracks the top 10 favorite holidays because for every cute costume and monster mashing-party, there’s a bit of dread. There’s the fact that it often falls on a weekday, the inevitable fights over controversial costuming, the lack of age-appropriate spookiness, and, of course, the candy.

Some candy-related debates are trivial: arguments over best Halloween candy, or the best way to eat candy corn. Other conversations are more serious: the havoc wrought on pediatric dental health is of more serious concern, the toughness of the holiday for kids with food allergies another, and of course kids who sneak their candy at all hours, or gorge on Halloween night, leading to a sugary fiasco and tummy aches.

One solution to stemming the tide of Halloween candy consternation — and of the fact that the holiday leaves many kids out — may be the mythical “Switch Witch” — a concept that’s been gaining in popularity in parenting circles over the past few years.

What Is The ‘Switch Witch’?

The premise is simple. After kids gather candy to their heart’s content, the “Switch Witch” visits their home and trades the kids a toy in exchange for the candy. It’s as though the Tooth Fairy has a cousin who helps ensure that baby teeth remain healthy and permanent teeth remain permanent.

Ideally, kids will opt into the arrangement, which gives them agency in making the healthy decision to pass on ingesting a lifetime’s worth of red food dye and high fructose corn syrup over the course of a few days.

Will kids immediately welcome the “Switch Witch”? Probably not. Candy rules! But when parents acknowledge reasons their child might not be too keen on the idea, they make the child feel seen and heard, which is key to connecting with kids.

A helpful approach might be to offer a fig leaf compromise: “I know you love candy. I do, too. But too much candy can give you a belly ache and isn’t great for your teeth. Besides, you’re never going to eat it all! Why not trade it in for a toy instead?”

The final hurdle is agreeing on the relative value of said candy. An active candy-for-candy trading economy is a time-honored Halloween tradition. But the degree of difficulty increases when bartering candy for pretty much anything else.

What gifts would be as valuable as a bucket of candy? Instead of trying to whole hog take away their candy, offer them a lesson in economics. If you can get a number of small gifts, you can put a price on them. 10 pieces of candy could be exchanged for, say, a rock painting kit. 20 for a science set. 100 or the whole bucket (whichever comes first) for a sweet LEGO Halloween set.

If traditional gifts just won’t do, consider an outing or a special meal of your child’s choosing if toy negotiations stall. What about a Zoo day for 45 pieces of chocolate? Or, what if your kid wants macaroni and cheese for breakfast one morning in exchange for 30 pieces of their candy? While not the healthiest start to the day, it’s certainly more nutritious than a bag full of sugar.

Why Is The ‘Switch Witch’ A Good Idea?

The Switch Witch is a tidy mechanism for parents to more easily bypass arguments over how much candy kids can have in the aftermath of Halloween, and when they can have it, but the character also has the potential to empower kids in a way that pilfering their candy when they’re asleep cannot, because it allows kids to make their own choice — a sort of bribe that is actually great for their critical thinking skills and also, teeth.

The “Switch Witch” is also a really great idea for kids who have food allergies who might be left out of traditional, candy-laden trick-or-treating. That way, kids who can’t eat the candy can still feel like they are getting some kind of reward for trick-or-treating. They get to hang out with their friends, trade their candy or Teal Pumpkin Halloween equivalent, and still get a special treat.

The Switch Witch is a great option that preserves Halloween's fun and social aspects while also allowing parents and kids to collaborate on a healthy life choice. And one might argue it makes Halloween even more fun when sugar crash prevention (whether the sugar rush is real might be more myth than fact) is factored in — especially when Halloween falls on a school night.

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