I have a 7 year old daughter and a 5 year old son. They are generally well behaved, good in school etc. The problem we are having is they constantly steal food- goodies, I mean, not like making a sandwich in the middle of the night. They eat well and often and we have regularly scheduled meals and snacks throughout the day. I am passionate about nutrition and we eat very healthily (is that a word, sorry), but they do get cookies, gum, and other marginal food- I'm not a food Nazi, as long as they eat their meals I'm fine with the occasional not so great snacks... we have removed as much as possible to minimize temptation, but there are still snacks in the pantry meant to go in their lunches, or for example candy we bought to give out for Halloween this week- at their ages, there is just no place they cannot access short of locking cupboards which I am against on principal- we are family!! Am I kidding myself that they should be able to break out of this habit? It's very upsetting to me and I definitely overreact when I find the evidence, I am just so continually shocked that they keep stealing even knowing that it sends mommy over the edge, let alone that I really believe they do understand that it's wrong. They don't steal anything else from anyone else. I feel sure that this is pretty common behaviour in this age range but don't know how to react properly or guide them toward abandoning it. Any help would be ever so appreciated!!!!
When are they stealing the food? Are they asking you for snacks before they steal it? My 9 year old loves snacks and goodies. But, if I say no she cant have it for whatever reason That's it. And she is usually fine about it.
One thing is for sure kids love to eat junk and that is normal however sneaking food or stealing food is not ok.
Hi I to have the same problem you are having except my daughter is 4 years old and is stealing the food and hiding the evidence in the trash canns in the kitchen and in her room. I would say this is normal behavior but I don't think so because after I find out about it she brag's to me on how she did it. Now I know that she knows what she is doing is wrong because she is hiding it or trying and I probably wouldn't even had noticed the problem except I caught her one morning. I know she eats well because the child eats more than I do at meals sometimes 2 and 3 helpings so it's not because she is hungry. I have talked to her about it and even put her on a stool for punishment but nothing worked she is still doing it . I think she is just doing it to see how far she can push me and agrivate me. Let me know if you have found a solution.
I have issues with my now 3year old daughter stealing food..She has been doing this since she was 2 years old. She has a feeding tube and its very dangerous for her to just go eating things when she doesnt know how to properly chew food like us due to her having brain damage. She climbs on counter tops, uses toys and buckets to get to cabinets. It's getting so bad that shes tearing up trash bags to dig and get what she can find. We catch her in the act at times and sometimes we dont. When we dont catch her after she gets done stealing food she takes herself back to bed, closes her door and acts like it never happend. FYI she does all of this while we are all asleep..Please help this is an everyday thing and has been going on for well over a year now
I feel for you! When I read your plea for help, I thought that I had written it, except that I have a 6 yr old daughter and 4 yr old son, but it is only my daughter who steals food. I have tried various tactics with little success. I have come to the point of putting a bell on her bedroom door so I can hear if she leaves her room during the night and that has calmed the night-time stealing. I have also moved any candy/gum, etc. to a spot in my bedroom closet and school snacks are moved and hidden frequently. Punishment is not the answer to this dilema, after all it is somewhat of a normal childhood behavior. and although I did go off the 'deep end' once or twice, I've learned that this doesn't help the situation either. It isn't always the easist thing in the world to reason with a 6 yr old but I sat down with her and had a long talk about respect. I attempted to explain that stealing food is selfish on her part because she is not only eating her share but everyone else's share as well and that this is not respecting her family. I think I saw a glimmer of understanding but only time will tell. I do believe, or hope, that this faze will pass quickly, but I am also trying to show her appropriate behavior by not grabbing 'snacks' myself when they are around. I have also put a bowl of fruit and assorted 'healthy' snacks out that she and her brother can help themselves to whenever they are hungry between meals. I hope this helps in some way.. keep your chin up, you are not alone!
i have a 12 y/o son and he doesnt regardless of what is in the house. he gets s nack right before bed time, offered 2nd on supper etc.. this doesnt stop it. and it isnt just "junk" food that he takes. it is cereal,crackers,granola,string cheese.. and it isnt just 1 serving of these things. he will eat the whole box of cereal, or a whole package of string cheese. i cant lock everything up in my room at night, we have 3 other children and it isnt fair to them cause he takes and eats all the snacks before anyone even has a chance to get any...
I have a 14 yr old and a 10 yr old and they continue to steal food from the kitchen. We are on a strict grocery budget and when they steal food it affects the family and what we will eat for the month. I have gone off the deep end too many times about it and i am fed up. I refuse to stay in kitchen day and night like a security officer. I offer plenty of other options after our proportioned meals like fruit and veggies, cause i figure if you are that hungry then you should eat the fruit and veggies. i am at my end of my rope when it comes to this matter and don't know what to do. Yesterday, I found all of the snacks were gone and the leftovers from dinner, that was meant for the following night, were gone!! I was fuming!! So today, they didn't get cereal for breakfast and as far as lunch and dinner, it will be nothing but fruit and veggies. They see how hungry they are....if they are so hungry for snacks, let's see how much fruit and veggies they eat today. That is all that they will have to eat, so i guess they will either be stubborn and go without for today or they be the healthiest kids in the neighborhood for the day. I am hoping that this will teach them a lesson. Also, I will give them their allowance this week, then request, immediately, deductions for groceries. I bet that this will change their minds as well!!! I hope!!
Parent, are your children overweight? If they are that's certainly something to put your foot down about.
If they are stealing dinner leftovers, and they are average or underweight, they aren't getting enough to eat. They are at an age where they are craving a lot of calories for all their body changes - I can't believe how much my 15 year old can eat, and he's small and underweight. Fruits and vegetables don't cut it - he needs meat and starchy carbs. If you can load up on the bread, eggs, peanut butter and jelly, flour tortillas and blocks of cheese, they can make enough food in between meals and won't have to steal to feel full.
Again, if your children are overweight that's a whole nother matter. If they aren't, they can make scrambled egg sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, etc, for very little money and get enough without having food withheld the next day as punishment.
Rockrose---- what great advice. Who wants their child to be hungry? I count my blessings that unless it is unhealthy junk or as you say-- my kids are overweight, I will never turn them away from food. I also want them to feel at home in the house and have some control over their lives. Occasionally helping themselves to something to eat seems reasonable to me . . .
Thanks for the advice. My children are not overweight. You're right, I have noticed that when preparing meals I need more. It is amazing how much they can eat now. It's like it happened fast. They can sometimes eat more than us. Also, I have spoken to them about what time they eat lunch in school and what they are eating. This played a major factor since one of my children have an early lunch. thanks again
I also have a 7yr old daughter she has been sneeking food for about a yr now hiding wrapers and peels around her room. I have also got onto her about her taking food out of her sisters and our mouths. I know she is not hungrey eaither cause we eat good meals. My new thing to try now is to let her spend her chore money on a box of snacks or food item that she wants so she feels like she has a choice of snack of course I will help her to pick a healthy choice as to she is becoming a little heavy. Any advice I would love to hear it its nice to know that there are more moms with this problem. Seems to be mostly girls to im wondering if its a self esteem issue or something???
I completely understand and have the same problem with my boys. Food is expensive and when you are budgetting you have to be smart. I grew up in a household that the kitchen was closed after night time dishes were done. We would gets snacks, but I had three other syblings and constant snacking healthy or not was expensive. i know have three children and have had this issue with my middle son since age 3 and my youngest son has adopted the same behaviors. It is incredibly frusterating. Ihave had a alarm in the kitchen and a log chain on my fridgerator at one point. I have had advice from kids don't over eat to I must not feed them enough. I have been rediculed for punishing them for eating. My boys are not overweight but these types of snacking can lead to unhealthy habits and future problems beyond overweight issues. I think you are absolutely right in your punishment you are not taking food away but teaching them when you eat all this food it takes away from something. We are on a tight budget and irritates the heck out of me that my kids have still not learned everything in moderation!!!
I have the same food stealing problem with my now 6 year old son he's been stealing Junk food ever since he could walk. No matter where I hide it, or how well I lock it up, he will still destroy anything in his way to get to it. Even my bedroom isn't off limits to his stealing. The roof cavity is the only place I haven't tried to hide the junk food, and that's only because I feel that is way to extreme of lengths to go to. I'm a single Mum on a low income, and I can't afford my son's "habit", and the worst part is he is teaching his 4 year old brother to do the same. Just last week I spent over $300 on groceries, two days later the whole lot was gone, because my 6 year old had eaten the lot! He eats 3 huge meals and several healthy snacks a day, half the time he says he's not hungry and can I leave the table, but then not even 5 minutes later he's creeping off into the kitchen as quiet as a mouse, raiding every cupboard and fridge grabs the sweetest thing he can find (usually jams, peanut butter, sugar (I mean actual sugar the stuff you add to coffee and bake with - No Joke) He will even eat rotten food out of the bin, I have spoken to Doctors and have been laughed at and was even told by 1 doctor that I had to be imagining it all, I wish my wallet agreed with that! I'm at the point where I am so frustrated because I can't stop them and as each day passes he's getting worse and worse and worse! I have to watch him 24 hours a day 7 days a week just to make sure he stops what he's doing, but even that is impracticle. If anyone has and ideas on how to stop children from stealing PLEASE HELP!!!!!!
Oh and I have asked my son why he does it and his reply was, and I quote "cause I felt like it" and if you ask why he felt like it he always replies "cause I did"
Serious question, why are you buying the junk food? If I had an issue to that magnitude, I'd not buy the trigger food. It just wouldn't be in my house. Then I'd have an open door policy to eat what is there---- healthy things. I understand the issues with trying to make your groceries last but snack food costs a lot more than non snack food. Kids don't need chips, cookies and junk. You can have air pop popcorn that you need to make for them-------- as a snack. No point in stealing that unless he has a microwave in his room.
Rethink your grocery list. If he's stealing grapes and eating them, who cares. Don't set up a situation in which he can't have them. then he can sit at the table and pig out. It's grapes.
I agree with you totally about not buying the junk food. 90% of my groceries are lean meats, fish, chicken/turkey and fresh fruits and vegetables. I buy biscuits and chocolate for myself but they wont leave them alone. I have popcorn and muesli bars, as the school my son attends demands they are in there morning snack, even the kindergarten my youngest goes to has them listed on the allowed to eat list. I dont believe in cordials, soft drinks, they are only allowed to drink water or milk - never juice. I allow peanut butter, honey and homemade sugarless jam on wholewheat bread, but no butters or margarines. They are allowed to have as much fruit as they like, but they don't want it, they just crave sugar and the more I limit it, the more they want it, because other kids have it why cant I? is what they say to me. These past few weeks I have not bought anything for myself, thinking that would stop them, but it hasn't. My friends don't come around anymore cause I never have anything to offer them with their cuppas, and my kids behaviour is usually so bad, that they run out the door. I have been accused by so called friends that I'm too soft on my kids, but I have my Mum and other people telling me that I'm too tough on them and to let them do what they like they'll stop doing what they're doing. tried that. It made the situation worse, and now i'm back to being tough on them they're laughing at me and stealing more and more. They even ate frozen hot cross buns straight out of the freezer, i don't even buy them easter eggs or lollies - I never have. I insist they always eat fresh fruits and vegies and have tried time and time again to drill into their heads that junk foods are bad, but they don't care. I know my kids are sugar addicts, but I don't know how to cure them of this problem. I don't buy processed foods, unless I have to I prefer to make my own in everything that I can. I don't allow them to eat processed cheeses, or potato chips, or things containing artificial sweetners, flavours and colours, as they are usually all sugar based and if they aren't based on sugar they are full of salt. My kids aren't overweight, infact my younbgest is underweight, but that's only because he rarely eats a proper meal, and has decided he's a vegetarian who's addicted to sweets. I just looked in my cupboards and fridge to write out my shopping list for the week, and the only sweet/junk food that I have is a small container of white sugar, I have homemade muesli, some dried fruits, fresh fruits and vegetables all of which they can have what they like, but they wont touch them, that's not what they want they will starve themselves until they get their sugar hit, and its terrifying and frustrating, I just wish I could stop them. But thank you for the advise, you've given me more than any doctor has
I can't believe Im not alone and have FINALLY found other people going through the same thing, I have a 9 year old boy (we have 4 kids altogether) who helps himself to any sweet thing he can find, including sugar straight from the sugar jar-ice cream from the freezer-biscuits, you name it he has just decided that if he wants it he eats it, we now have a lock on our pantry. Seems really strange but we are at a complete loss as to what else to do, hes even been through our room into our drawers and our closets to find lollies hidden in there we didnt think he would find as we were sure he wouldnt go into our room.....yeah...so wrong about that! We have tried nearly every thing you can imagine, taking things away, grounding him, bed early, no pocket money etc etc theres a massive list of the things weve tried, hes seen a councellor and Ive even taken him to see a doctor as I thought he was addicted to sugar..according to our doctor thats no possible..Id like to see him spend a week with my son and then tell me that! The only thing that is working for us is our pantry lock, it sounds extreme but its a hell of a lot better than going insane and so far its the only thing thats working. Anyways just wanted to thank you all for sharing your own stories because now I know that Im not the only one going through this to.
Also wanted to add that this isnt because he is hungry either, hes not underweight nor is he over weight. he gets 3 meals a day with healthy snacks in between, this is purely a "sweet" issue hes even gone as far as picking chewing gum off the ground or a lollie out of the bin and eating it..really gross.. he doesnt go without, I dont deprive him of lollies or sweet things so I know its not because hes not getting these things. I did have someone suggest that hes addicted to the adreneline of sneaking these things behind our backs. We have 4 kids to feed and are on a tight budget if I let them all raid the pantry whenever they felt like it Id have no food left before it was time to do groceries again. Like I said ifits helthy and they are hungry the answer is always yes. My son has a serious issue one that I havent found an answer to yet but hope to in the future
RockRose your comments are judgmental. I wonder what brings you to this forum. I know I was searching for some answers to this problem myself, but this is not that place for judgement. I hope you all find the answers you need. I believe for my own situation, I could probably display better snacking habits by not grabbing a pinch here and there and actually sitting at the table to eat my snacks respectfully. Also taking an honest assessment at what my daughter's intake requirements are. She is a competitive swimmer and she obviously needs more to eat than her 5 y.o. sisters.
I have a yr. old grandson whom I have custody of. He is very under weight (barely 60 lbs.) He has plenty of food available, more than 3 meals and snacks. We keep ensue that he can have several times a day. But he will not stop stealing food and lying about it. What's even worse is he throws the food and trash where-ever..., in drawers, closets, under furniture. It has been so bad that at the end of his bed against the wall, there were magots. Yes, magots for all the food and liquid he hides. When I brought this his attention, it was like he didn't have a clue, nor did he really care. He now sneaks in the bathroom to eat and puts the trash in my clothing drawer. When I ask why, his response is, "I don't know and I honestly believe he doesn't know.
You should probably chill out you say you're not a food nazi but you're sent over the edge for "stealing" snacks those are the exct kind of fits that cause distance between children and really bad eating habits later in life not to mention it probably makes then feel inadequate in your eyes because you have such a big issue with them snacking more than you think they should ... My mother did this crap and I was 200 lbs by middle school and guess what my mother and I still have a strained relationship an another thing I was lucky enough for my parents to be divorced so I could get away from that negativity and I lost 60 lbs in one summer .... I hope u don't want that for you and your children's relationships
I have this same problem with my 5 year old son. So i totaly understand what she is saying. an my son DOES eat PLENTY food at meal time, an also gets snacks. So i don't agree wit the negative comments. You don't knoow how it is unless your dealing with it yourself. An also it is called stealing, because the snacks don't belong to just him alone. It's not fare to the rest of the children that he STEALS them all an leaves none for them. So the negativity is not called for. I so feel your pain....
Why do you keep so much junk in the house? And why do you put junk in their lunches? As for "stealing," If you have only one box of cookies in the house, the kiddies will find it. That proves they are intelligent and normal.
Instead of manufactured sweet stuff, why not leave out bowls of nuts, seeds, naturally dried fruit, and fresh fruit. That's what I did. They seemed to eat all day and never got fat. What they wee eating was real food. However, they did find that box of cookies and one day I saw a wrapped up lump of something whitish in the refrigerator, couldn't figure out what it was, and threw it in the garbage. It turned out that they had been scraping the cream out of the inside of the cookies and were saving it up for a treat.
my daughter steals biscuits and sweets withing minutes after eating her breakfast or any other meal and she knows its wrong as she sneaks into the bathroom to eat them and then denys it! i dont usually have them in the house but the sweets were left over from halloween and the biscuits were left over from a charity coffee morning i had, so how can you say they steal threw hunger only,(margpops) i have plenty of fruit available when ever she wants it, she is taking them threw pure greed and she's 9 and told me that too also because i dont allow her sweet stuff that often as its bad for her diet and teeth, my worry is that if she thinks its aceptable now and gets away with it then when she hit 13+ shes going to go into shops and think oh yeah i want that im gonna have it! iv spoken to the school her behaviour there is aceptional iv spoken to the police and theyve spoke to her her attitude to that is ok i wont do it again and then does it a couple days later,
to many people have said its not stealing when of course it is, if they're told no but take it anyway its stealing no matter where it is or what it is! wether its 1 sweet or a whole packet or weather its £1 or £50 its theft!
and its definatly not hunger if shes just ate a meal and shes not over or under weight either and has a very balanced diet 3 meals 5 fruit n veg aday aswell as healthy snacks between ie carrot and cucumber slices or a yoghurt !!
Clearly you have never woke up to your five year old son pouring the entire bottle of pancake syrup on to their floors, I also have a two year old son who has started the same behavior due to being taught by a master food stealer. It has been going on for years and shows no signs of stopping. Both my son eat very well and often, I don't think that hunger is the problem. I don't know what to do, I have just stopped buying anything with sugar, but they have taken to eating butter and even raw eggs. I am starting to worry, someone please help!?!
My son is almost 5-years-old. He is aware that stealing is wrong and that if Mommy and Daddy say 'no' to something that there is a reason. He steals any type of block cheese, almond butter, jam, cream cheese, fruit (takes a bite out of 5 or so organic apples, not finishing one), and so much more. At one point, he ate an entire thing of tortillas. He eats wholesome foods including plenty of meat, but refuses to eat vegetables, only fruits. He drinks green smoothies, but always complains about being hungry. He inhales his food, and trying to get him to eat slower is a fight in itself. He knows this behavior is not acceptable and still continues, even trying to blame his brother, and hiding his evidence in the bathroom.
This discussion is old, and keeps getting added to so it's not clear the original posters are still around.
Kids hoard food for a variety of reasons. Some have metabolic disorders where they crave extra food, some have blood sugar disorders, some have anxiety/hoarding disorders, and some do it as a way to stick their thumbs in the eyes of their parents/caregivers.
Reading through this thread I see lots of different situations.
To laraloo who's raising a grandchild, it's probably a result of a neglectful/abusive childhood that this child is now compensating for. I see other moms who seem to have real control issues. And some, it appears have metabolic cravings.
All these kids can't be lumped into the same category with the same solutions.
I do want to make some comments, ONE, there seems to be a common thread in all of these stories. MOST of the posters appear to have ONLY healthy foods available, with NO "goodies" per se. Some admit to buying goodies for themselves, while the kids can have fruits and veggies. I think a big part of the problem is deprivation. I'm going to share my own story in a minute.
There also seems to be a pretty big level of intensity surrounding food, from what was described. Not that I think a house should be full of junk food, but I think if you deprive a kid of those unhealthy "goodies" completely, they're going to act out, or seek it out.
I was raised in a pretty food restrictive home, VERY minimal sugary foods (even cereals, we ate grape nuts, bran cereal, blah...lol), and were allowed one soda maybe in a week's period of time. There was a lot of discussion about healthy foods, weight, etc etc...to the point where it had to opposite impact on my sister and I.
We were raised like that, but it didn't stop me OR my sister from sneaking the goodies every chance we got, and overindulged every time we were at grandma's, etc. BOTH my sister and I are in our 40's and frankly have some bad eating habits and are both pretty significantly overweight.
I'm telling you from someone who was pretty severely restricted when it came to junk food, that it had the opposite result for both my sister and I. I know I always felt deprived, even if I wasn't hungry, I longed for the lousy stuff. We didn't steal food, but you better bet the moment we BOTH moved out on our own, we went a little nuts. I think if we were allowed a little more of the bad stuff in moderation, we wouldn't have felt as though we were missing out. I mean, as a kid, I would go to my friend's houses, and they all had cookie crisp cereal, or fruit loops, and lets be honest, the stuff tastes good! So, yes, I DID feel deprived of the "normal" stuff all other kids seemed to be eating. Ironically, a lot f my HS friends, who has the sugary cereals are in shape, thin, with healthy, active kids.
I never EVER even tried most of the sugary cereals until I was an adult, my apt pantry was full of those kinds of cereals, with one box of unopened grape nuts, out of a feeling of obligation. BTW, grape nuts provide great traction on sidewalks in the snow. ;0)
I completely agree, nursegirl. It's funny how much overeating people will do trying to feed a craving if the food they are craving isn't there or is restricted.
I've got lots of healthy food in my house, always, but there's always a bag of candy or cookies, and a couple boxes of Captain Crunch or Cocoa Puffs in the cabinet next to the Blueberry Morning and Whole Grain Cheerios.
My kids were raised to know they could eat anything at all, at any time they wanted it. They were that way from the time they began eating solid foods - if you want it, it's yours. I have two slightly underweight adult sons, and one who is perfect weight.
And sometimes they grab a stack of oreos and a cup of milk. usually, though, they choose very healthy non-sweet foods.
Some kids might be different. Three out of three of mine would wait for dinner if it was coming up rather than eat something else when they were hungry because dinner was worth waiting for, and they knew they could always have that other thing later if they were hungry.
Nurse Girl, I believe that you and I are very close in age, and your story is so much like my own that it might as well have been ME telling it! LOL. And RockRose, I love your posts and it made me smile to see your comments on here!
I know this thread is old, but I am so glad that this is obviously a common issue. I don't restrict my daughter's snacks much at all. The behavior that is driving me crazy is the 'stealing/sneaking'. I found out last night that she was taking cough drops out of the medicine cabinet and those have menthol which is bad for her epecially in large quanities. We used to have my 25 y/o younger brother in the house and he's showed signs of being a kleptomaniac since he was my daughter's age and has never stopped; he was in juvenile detention for a while for theft. Some of my fear is that she is imitating this behavior. I feel as if I have talked until I'm blue in the face. I tried taking away treats when she stole; which made me feel horrible because I never want to tell her that she can't have food. I tried rewarding her anytime she went without sneaking food. Nothing is working. I have awarded myself a worst mommy ever trophy for blowing my top; but in the moment I just get so scared that if I don't stop it now, she will grow up to be a thief. I still don't know what to do because talking, punishiing, rewarding (good behavior) and nothing else I've tried has worked. I can't not do something because I believe that sends the message that it is acceptable. I just feel overwhelmed, but relieved I'm not alone.
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