ADHD and Managing Halloween Celebrations

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There is a common misconception that ADHD is caused by excess sugar in a child’s diet. While research does not support this, the fact is, Halloween and its excessive candy consumption is cause for concern. Halloween can be a very distracting time for children in general but can be exceptionally hard for young people with ADHD. There are chemicals in the candy that may interfere with the medication prescribed by their Orange County therapist or trigger negative reactions, not to mention the excitement that comes from wearing a costume, trick-or-treating and going to parties.

The excess stimulation created by this holiday can lead to conflict with your ADHD child when you try and set some rules. Since Halloween is meant to be fun for both children and parents, use these child psychiatry approved tips to help your ADHD child enjoy Halloween without any trouble:

  • Before Halloween, talk to your child. Tell them that they are going to wake up on Halloween morning feeling more excited than usual, just like they have in the past. Remind them that they will feel a lot better if they take deep breaths, slow down and enjoy the day. You both want it to be fun and you will appreciate their cooperation.
  • ADHD causes impulsive behaviors in children. This can be a disaster for classroom Halloween parties, where an unmonitored child can devour their entire candy stash in minutes. Do your best to limit the amount of candy they have in one sitting. Talk to the child, talk to the teacher or do both.
  • Establish regular meal times. This is important every day but is especially vital during the holiday season. This will regulate their blood sugar and make the treats slightly less tempting.
  • Make sure to feed your ADHD child healthy food on Halloween day. Give them a filling breakfast and send fruits and vegetables for snacks in their lunch. Make it part of the deal—as long as they eat the healthy foods so that they will feel better, they can enjoy some candy.
  • Set limits for trick-or-treating. There is no need to drive all over town or hit several neighborhoods. Stick to two or three streets and call it a day. Some families supplement trick-or-treat time with another fun activity, such as going to the movies or playing games. Your child also might enjoy handing out candy to other trick-or-treaters after they’ve had their turn. It’s always fun to see the other costumes.
  • Some parents choose to “bribe” their children by buying back some or all of their candy. This option may work, depending on your child’s unique personality. If they do sacrifice their candy for money, take them shopping for a new toy or something they will love. If they won’t part with their stash, set daily limits on how much candy can be eaten.