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9 year old who steals from cupboard

(78 Posts)
Dexterrocks Sun 28-Nov-10 22:46:19

Our 9 year old dd continually steals "treats" from the kitchen cupboards in the morning before we get up.
Both my children are very early risers (5am is normal) and are therefore allowed to help themselves to cereal when they get up. However our dd helps herself to far more: sweets, biscuits, partially eaten bags of crips, glace cherries, syrup etc.
We have made it clear that we know what she has done and told her off for it but she continues to do it.
We have deprived her of treats when our ds is getting them because she has helped herself to them before breakfast.
She is well fed and, as I say is not expected to go hungry until we get up.
Any suggestions of ways to stop her doing this?
We have tried hiding all the treats in our bedroom and that is when she started helping herself to baking supplies.

SparkleSoiree Sun 28-Nov-10 22:48:43

Have you asked her why she does it?

Olihan Sun 28-Nov-10 22:50:50

Can you put a lock on the kitchen door and just leave a couple of bowls of cereal/some fruit/a sandwich out in the room where she watches TV? Totally deprive her of access?

Unless you actually get up with her and supervise her you're a bit stuck, I think.

TrailMix Sun 28-Nov-10 22:58:14

I'm sure you've already tried explaining to her the problem with eating sweets/crisps/etc. Can you get the GP or someone similar to discuss nutrition with her? Children have a remarkable ability to ignore their parents...

Lock the cupboard if you must, but much better to teach her some self control, if possible. The only problem with self control, of course, is it has to come from the self in question!

vess Sun 28-Nov-10 23:07:08

I wouldn't consider that 'stealing'.
Why don't you just let her have some?

Plenty of adults eat stuff they know they shouldn't.

Dexterrocks Sun 28-Nov-10 23:09:48

When I ask why she does it she just shrugs.
We have discussed why these things are treats and not every day foods and she totally understands that they are not healthy.
A lock seems the only answer but it is very depressing not to be able to trust your own child.

MitchyInge Sun 28-Nov-10 23:11:11

How can you steal from your own house?

Dexterrocks Sun 28-Nov-10 23:15:28

Surely it is stealing if it does not belong to you and you know you are not allowed it. If she helped herself to money from my purse I would consider it stealing - this is just one step away from that. She has "taken" sweets that were given to my husband as a gift and everything.

BaroqinAroundTheChristmasTree Sun 28-Nov-10 23:16:17

oh as soon as I saw this thread title I knew it would descend into a debate about whether you can steal food from your own house.

I had this problem with DS1 (still do to a tiny extent but he's much better now than he used to be).

the solution I found worked best was by having a box in the cupboard full of the stuff that he liked to take - that was "his" box - it was filled once a week, once it was gone, it was gone.

And if he took other food that wasn't set aside for him to eat he got less in the box the following week.

BaroqinAroundTheChristmasTree Sun 28-Nov-10 23:18:34

Children don't have the same concept that "the chocllate sprinkles are needed to make the cake for X event" X is there for Y meal/baking. Therefore if they take them without asking those things won't happen.

I, for one, can't afford to just go around replacing any food that my DS's decide to help themselves to willy nilly regardless of what it was bought for

They don't go hungry - they have free reign of the fruit bowl, and are allowed snacks during the day too. But they have to ask for stuff from the cupboards.

Tortington Sun 28-Nov-10 23:18:41

dont buy them

TrailMix Sun 28-Nov-10 23:18:43

I don't think it's a 'trust' issue, and it's not stealing. I mean, would you call it stealing if she was taking bananas?

It's about her relationship with food, and she needs to establish a good one that will last her for life. She needs learn how to deal with cravings for sweets without digging into the baking supplies.

Help her find some coping strategies.

Dexterrocks Sun 28-Nov-10 23:19:37

Baroqin - thank you - that is a really constructive reply - a clever idea that we will try out (as soon as the snow clears and we can get to a shop!!) (smile)

BaroqinAroundTheChristmasTree Sun 28-Nov-10 23:22:20

Custardo - "don't buy them" is a bit difficult if they're taking baking supplies smile

And yes - if I didn't give my children permission to take fruit as they want (actually if it's close to meal times I do expect them to ask) I'd consider it stealing.

It is a trust issue imo

RobynLou Sun 28-Nov-10 23:26:40

I used to do this, and it was the start of some big food issues for me. I don't know what the right answer is, but I would be careful to ensure you don't make her more secretive than already and you find out about dealing with compulsive behaviour.
secretive eating of strange things could point to future food issues imo.

everybodysgotone Sun 28-Nov-10 23:35:57

Me and my siblings used to do this when we were kids. We used to steal treats. If we had none in, we stole cooking chocolate and even dog chocolate (special chocolate for dogs used for training purposes, its quite vile) shock

My mum tried everything, she used to hide the treats in a different place every week but it was like a game to us and we would always find them and scoff them.

We even stole money from my mum's purse to buy sweets blush Only 10p or something but still...

Sorry I know this doesn't help you but I think it's fairly normal behaviour...I remember having massive cravings for sweet stuff. I had quite a poor appetite otherwise and was very fussy. Me and my siblings have no food issues and are all quite slim FWIW

BaroqinAroundTheChristmasTree Sun 28-Nov-10 23:43:12

I used to do it too - usually spoonfuls of homemade jam or those blocks of jelly cubes. Mine was just me thinking my mum was unfair as to how much sweet stuff she'd let us have.

I found he box worked well as it when a weeks worth of stuff was put in it looked like LOADS - although actually small compared to his overall diet. And it slowly dawned on him that actually I'm quite generous with the snacks

With DS1 it's turned out to be more than compulsive eating as the latest key issue was of him keeping some of the change when I'd sent him to the shop - I found loads of change hidden in his room and a couple of wrappers (not all sweet stuff - he's bought a tub of blueberries that were on offer at some point!) (oh and a couple of packs of stickers)

NotanOtter Sun 28-Nov-10 23:50:39

so annoying op - my teens do this
the eldest stopped a few years back but the 14 year old is a HORROR for it
we can't open biscuits etc as the whole pack will vanish.

and YES to the darned glace cherries ...grrrr

At least your dd is admitting it

we find a bit of a pudding ban cuts our the pilfering for a few weeks and when it starts happening again - re instate the ban

BecauseImWorthIt Sun 28-Nov-10 23:53:50

As Custy says - don't buy it. No need for biscuits/crisps - they're not baking supplies.

Anything else, either lock them up somewhere, or hide them in the vegetable/salad drawer in the fridge.

piprabbit Mon 29-Nov-10 00:04:13

Step lightly when you are dealing with your DD. The secretive, almost complusive, comfort eating could well be her way of dealing with difficult situations.
Blocking her access to the food without finding out what is causing the behaviour is treating the symptom not the problem.
If she is using food as an emotional prop, then she may well turn to buying and hiding her own supplies - pushing her further into herself.

NotanOtter Mon 29-Nov-10 00:11:31

mine are just greedy wink

RoseMortmain Mon 29-Nov-10 00:20:11

But BIWI, if she doesn't buy them then her DD will take other foodstuffs so it's not as simple as just not having that type of food in the house. Can she not buy baking supplies, cereals, fruit either?

Saying 'don't buy treats' is far too simplistic when the OP has explained that if there aren't any 'treats' she will eat other foodstuffs.

My Ds does exactly the same with the 'treats' and if there aren't any left (which there often isn't at the end of the week - I buy what I consider is enough for the week and once it's gone, it's gone) he will then start on the fruitbowl - the other day he went through 4 apples, a nectarine and a pear in the hour between him getting up and us getting up. Yes, it's healthy food but consuming that amount in one go isn't good.

It bothers me because both DH and I have no 'off' switch when it comes to food and we are both very overweight as a result. I was hoping to teach Ds a more considered way of eating as treats were very tightly controlled when I was a child but it doesn't seem to be working. My other 2 dcs don't eat 'binge' like he does. At the moment he is a very tall, slim child but I was too until I hit puberty.

I really hope you get some good advice OP because I'd like to use it too! I like Baroque's box idea but I don't think it would work for ds unless we put all of his 'between meals' food in there, including fruit and then locked him out of the kitchen once it was empty!

werewolf Mon 29-Nov-10 00:28:20

Maybe give her more protein? I'm sure I've read it somewhere that cravings for sweet things are a sign that you need more protein.

Does anyone know about this?

Showaddywaddy Mon 29-Nov-10 00:28:52

My brother used to do this. We rarely had treats in the house but he'd take what he could. Baking supplies were a favourite (glace cherries, jelly cubes, those little diamond things, silver balls etc) and if he couldn't get them he'd go for tins of beans cold, eaten with a spoon. Anything really. Then he'd hide the packets.

He was being bullied it turned out. I'm not suggesting this is what's happening. I think it's within the realms of normal childhood problems but sometimes it's as a result of some unhappiness and it's a form of control.

BecauseImWorthIt Mon 29-Nov-10 00:34:06

RM - it may not be as simple as not having things available - I don't know. There could be a lot more to it, as other posters have suggested, and I'm not trying to suggest otherwise.

But a 9 year old is not going to get up at 5 am and make herself a sensible/healthy breakfast if there are other, easy and tempting things in the cupboards. So the first thing to do is to remove all of those.

And yes - if she is going for the baking goods, then remove those/stop buying those until the issue is sorted out.

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