Sugar Plum Scaries

It’s everywhere. School parties, friends’ houses, gifts from neighbors, special displays in all the stores. It’s there before, during and after the holidays. It makes you feel wonderful and then terrible. It’s your holiday frenemy.


During the holidays, you come into contact with more sugary goodies than any other time of year. Cookies, candies and special desserts go with the territory, and you may find yourself and your whole family indulging in ways you don’t normally do. So, what does this mean for my Complex Learner? Will he/she become more hyperactive, anxious, distracted, overwhelmed?

There is conflicting research on how sugar effects behavior, but for most kids, and especially Complex Learners, judging for themselves when they’ve had enough sweets is difficult. When overloaded with holiday treats children may be too full to eat healthy foods, experience stomach aches, have blood sugar surges and crashes, and find themselves craving other sugary foods. These things in turn have the potential to make kids feel tired and cranky.

You more than anyone sees how your child reacts to sugar, so given the abundance and indulgence at this time of year, take some time to think about how you want to manage all the sweets. It helps to have lots of healthy snacks and foods easily available. And talk to your child ahead of time about limits that they agree on as well.

What do you do to help your child handle all the treats available at this time of year?


Anna Johnson, Head of School at The Wolf School, is a devoted, passionate educator with more than 17 years of classroom and leadership experience. She holds a BA and MAT from Brown University, and speaks locally and nationally on topics related to Complex Learners.


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