5-8 year-olds: At this age, kids are old enough to understand that certain candy could make them really sick. So try a tactic that I call “Trade Up”. Here’s how it worked with my son. I’d buy a variety of pricey novelty candy ($7 spinning lollipop, anyone?), as well as a few inexpensive toys. When my son returned home from trick-or-treating, we’d head to the kitchen table and begin bartering, with him trading his unsafe candy for my safe candy, toys and trinkets. Everyone wins!
8 and up: In this age range, cash is king. Most kids are more than happy to trade their unsafe candy for nickels, dimes, quarters or even dollars. I call this tactic “Cash for Pumpkins”. Watch their eyes widen with excitement as their coins add up to a nice chunk of change! Some kids might be more excited by a larger-ticket item, like a doll or game that can be traded for an entire bag of candy.
Siblings: If you are uncomfortable keeping allergens in your home, then offer to trade siblings’ candy, too. Or, consider saving a stash in a safe place and promise to take your non-allergic child on a “peanut date” (or other allergen) where she can indulge in the forbidden candy without endangering her allergic brother or sister.
Despite my best efforts, there were definitely some years when my son was angry that he wasn’t able to keep all of his candy. I’m sure my pity reinforced his attitude. But we’ve moved past this, and now, at 11 years old, he feels lucky that he gets a fun video game and some candy.
Halloween with food allergies requires a little work behind the scenes. However, when parents model resilience and a can-do attitude, our kids are inclined to follow in our footsteps. Halloween can be a treat for your whole family!
Gina Clowes is a columnist for Allergic Living magazine. She is a master certified life coach, specializing in the needs of parents of children with food allergies, and the founder and director of the online support group AllergyMoms.com.
First published in Allergic Living magazine.
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