DEAR ABBY: For several years I have wanted to share this little trick for parents whose small children consume too much candy at Halloween. Finally, I've found the time to write, and it's actually BEFORE Halloween.
I have always told my children, thanks to Linus in the "Peanuts" comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, that the Great Pumpkin comes on Halloween night and brings a gift for the children who leave him candy. The more of their candy they leave, the bigger the gift is. To make this work -- and my children have never kept more than five pieces of candy -- you must begin when the children are very young, and keep reminding them that the more candy they leave, the BIGGER the gift. When my children keep only five pieces and turn the rest over to the Great Pumpkin, they get a substantial gift that they really want.
It's worth it to me. My kids have never had a cavity. And my husband and his co-workers are more than happy to eat what the Great Pumpkin reaps. I hope this works for other families. -- NO SUGAR IN SEATTLE
DEAR NO SUGAR: What a "sweet" idea for parents who try to limit their children's sugar intake. It's a suggestion I'm sure many parents will welcome this Halloween.
And while I'm on the subject of Halloween, may I add a few more tips from the National Citizens' Crime Prevention Campaign, which is substantially funded by the U.S. Department of Justice:
1. Instruct children not to eat any treats until they get home. Feed them a meal or snack before they go out to keep them from digging in while they're out. Parents should inspect all the treats.
2. Allow children to eat only those treats that are in unopened and original wrappers. Carefully inspect fruits and homemade goodies.
3. Make sure children wear light colors or put reflective tape on their flame-retardant costumes, which should be short to prevent trips and falls.
4. Try makeup instead of masks, which can obstruct a child's vision.
5. Children should trick-or-treat in groups, and stop only at familiar homes where the outside lights are on. Young children should always be accompanied by an adult.
6. Map out a safe route to familiar homes for older trick-or-treaters, and make sure the children have flashlights, and that they stay on well-lighted streets.