Halloween is my favorite holiday. For me, the appeal lies in the corn mazes, pumpkin carving, and hot cocoa. But for many children, Halloween is about one thing: candy. Lots and lots of free candy. While they may not be obvious at first, there are some life lessons that children can learn from the annual ritual of collecting free candy:
• Moderation: Parents can learn a lot when observing their children’s behavior towards their newfound riches. Some children will dive into their stash the moment they get home, while others may want to hoard their candy for weeks, afraid of running out. This is a good time to introduce the concept of moderation. Being over-indulgent could lead to negative consequences, like a stomach ache. Eating all of the candy at once also means that there won’t be any candy in a few weeks when other kids at school are still bringing Snickers in their lunch boxes. On the flip side, being overly restrictive with candy on Halloween night may lead to rebellious behaviors down the road. Developing a healthy sense of moderation early on in life can lead to positive lifestyle decisions in adulthood.
• Strategy: Every year, there’s always those houses that hand out full-size candy bars or that set up a spooky haunted house in their garage. I remember how my friends and I would map out the best route to hit up those houses and end up back at our house exactly 2 hours after we left. This process can teach children the benefits of strategizing before setting off to reach a goal. If the goal is to get the most full-size candy bars, it’s important to plan ahead. And if you want to buy a house, strategizing is just as important (okay, maybe a little more important).
• Negotiation: Is there anything worse than ending a successful trick-or-treat excursion and finding that you came home with way too many Laffy Taffys and not enough Twix bars? A lot of children sit down after a long night of doorbell ringing and find that they have a lot of candy they aren’t interested in. But maybe someone else in the room hit the Twix bar jackpot and that’s when the trading begins. Children learn that their candy is only worth what someone else is willing to trade for it. That lesson becomes useful in many aspects of adult life: shopping for a new car and asking for a raise are just a few examples.
Parents don’t have to explicitly tell their children that Halloween is a learning opportunity (that might take a little of the fun out of it). Subtle nudges from parents won’t hurt, but certain aspects of this holiday will naturally teach kids some life lessons they can carry with them.
Have a fun and safe Halloween!