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Old 10-07-2013, 02:20 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
2,533 posts, read 2,692,928 times
Reputation: 3861

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Don't know what to do! We have a 7 y/o girl, 5 y/o girl, 3 y/o boy, and 1.5 y/o boy.

The problem mainly lies with my 3 year old boy. Just this morning, I walk into the kitchen and notice a dining room chair in front of the fridge, with the stool on it. He took the brand new loaf of bread from the top of the fridge and brought it in his room, where he and his little brother were just munching on all of it. The bread was ruined, slobbered on, ripped, squished etc. He also went into the fridge and ate 6 of the 8 cinnabons we baked last night. Why was the bread on top of the fridge and pushed so far back you may ask...? Because just yesterday morning all 4 of them managed to get a DIFFERENT loaf of bread, and ate the entire thing.

This past Friday after getting out of the shower to go check on the girls doing their homework in the dining room, I hear the oldest one scramble from the kitchen and run back into the dining room. They stole candy from the fridge (and lied about it). About a week ago, after the kids had finished eating (myself and their mother hadn't ate yet, we were doing homework) and when we went into the kitchen to grab our chicken, one was missing and the other piece of chicken had bite marks all over it.

These are just a few of many examples. We have tried putting them in the corner and time out and talking to them, taking away TV, taking away toys, we have even spanked them about it. It is still happening. It is wasting our money like crazy. We are at a loss on what to do. Please, suggestions! Cheap suggestions. We are not a wealthy family by any means. So buying locks for cabinets/fridge will have to be a last resort, and only after a few more paychecks come in. Please! Going crazy.

Oh, and by the way, they are teaching the 20 month old baby that this is okay. I know this because he stays at home with his mom while I'm at school, and I guess she fell asleep today because when I got home there were crackers all over his room.....

These kids are not starving at all. I love food, so I cook a lot of good and healthy meals that everyone enjoys. They eat plenty. Yes the dad is the main cook here, lol.
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Old 10-07-2013, 03:00 PM
 
12,913 posts, read 19,782,209 times
Reputation: 33905
Something doesn't sound right. Kids fed on a regular schedule don't usually feel the need to steal food. Is it at all possible they are doing so because you and your wife are so busy with school that they are looking for attention? I'm not judging, just offering a possible motive, because my head scratching didn't give me anything better.

How about a snack shelf in the refrigerator, or a tray on the counter, that they can have free access to? I'm thinking healthier options such as pretzels or fruit. You control the contents, everything else is off limits.
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Old 10-07-2013, 03:03 PM
 
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
39,003 posts, read 37,656,456 times
Reputation: 73578
I like Mattie's idea, besides, with an 18-month-old, your house should already be child-proofed. You need fridge locks NOW regardless of the cost.

Is the 3-year-old overweight?
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Old 10-07-2013, 03:04 PM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
10,860 posts, read 18,875,631 times
Reputation: 25100
This comes down to rules and supervision.

You need to make a rule about what to eat when. If food is for meals, then it needs to be left alone. Buy some food that they can eat between meals. You can get cheap things like bananas, or cereal that you portion out into bags. Put the snack food in a particular area, or a shelf in the pantry. Tell all of them that's the snack food and they can eat it when they want.

Next, all food has to be eaten at the table. Even snack food. The only exception might be if they're playing outside and you give them a popsicle or something like that. Taking food in their rooms is going to make the house dirty, and it's going to bring ants and cockroaches to the house. So the rule needs to be no food outside of the dining room or kitchen. And you and your wife need to eat with them, that way nobody eats your food before you get around to it.

Your 7 year old is old enough to keep an eye on the others. Tell her that she's the food police. If she sees someone taking food outside of the dining room or kitchen, or getting into food that's not in the designated snack food area, she needs to come and tell you.

This isn't a really common problem, so let me ask you something and please don't get offended...are you and your family having trouble getting enough food? Could the kids be worried that they're not going to get enough? There are different food assistance programs that might be able to help your family...the youngest kids might be eligible for WIC, which would provide things like eggs, cheese, milk and cereal. The two who are school age might be able to get free school lunch and breakfast...usually the school cafeteria has a form so that you can apply for it. And the whole family might be eligible for food stamps, especially since you have a large family and you and your wife are both students. There's no shame in getting a little help while you're trying to get through school.

Also, don't keep the bread on top of the fridge. Most refrigerators get hot up there and it makes the bread spoil faster.
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Old 10-07-2013, 03:15 PM
 
1,913 posts, read 2,703,403 times
Reputation: 2643
If kids are "stealing" food, either they all have a rare medical condition, or you and your husband are limiting their access to food and NOT FEEDING THEM ENOUGH. Kids need snacks, not just 3 meals per day, and sometimes they need more during growth spurts. Keep a ready supply of a variety of healthy foods for them to snack on throughout the day. This should include a variety of fruits/veggies, dried fruit, cheese, meat, peanut butter, hummus, whole grains, etc...

Once you and your husband no longer regulate food intake, in a few weeks the kids' appetites will self-adjust and they will eat exactly what their body needs. Finally, never use food or treats as a behavioral "reward". You do not want to encourage a maladaptive emotional response to food. Food is nourishment for kids & the amounts they need are directed by their bodies. Do NOT withhold (this goes for milk and water, too). Just keep the choices primarily healthy and varied, ensure protein, increase portion size and/or frequency, and make sure they have enough opportunities to play outdoors and be active. You and your husband need to change, not the kids. Yes, food can be expensive. Brainstorm some options, cut coupons, buy sale items, go to the food bank, start a garden. But make sure they are getting enough protein and nutrients.
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Old 10-07-2013, 03:48 PM
 
12,422 posts, read 14,547,993 times
Reputation: 14088
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordHelmit View Post

Oh, and by the way, they are teaching the 20 month old baby that this is okay. I know this because he stays at home with his mom while I'm at school, and I guess she fell asleep today because when I got home there were crackers all over his room.....

These kids are not starving at all. I love food, so I cook a lot of good and healthy meals that everyone enjoys. They eat plenty. Yes the dad is the main cook here, lol.
I think that you should have a set place where they eat. That might help. You mentioned that "about a week ago, after the kids had finished eating", you found missing chicken..I'm wondering...are you there with them at meals?..Do you watch them eat their main meals?..maybe all the "good and healthy" meals you're cooking aren't getting ate..otherwise why would they still be so hungry?..Your oldest is 7...it's gotta be pretty easy to fix something up that'll keep them out of the fridge, something cheap...even a rope with a good knot...I can't see a kid doing this unless it's because they're absolutely famished, or they've been taught to help themselves...Another poster mentioned a snack shelf just for them..good healthy treats...I think that's a good idea....also...how does a 20 month old sneak crackers into her room? and if she did, whose fault is that?
I don't think the problem "mainly lies with the 3 year old"..how can that be at 3 years? I think the problem is possibly lack of supervision.
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Old 10-07-2013, 03:57 PM
 
Location: here
24,469 posts, read 28,723,874 times
Reputation: 31039
Something doesn't sound right. Every kid is going to sneak candy or cookies if they have the chance. Sneaking chicken and bread is just not normal. They must either be hungry or sick (there is that disorder where you never feel full). I don't think rules and punishment are the answer. I think you need to really look at the reason for this behavior. If they have a set schedule of meals and snacks, they shouldn't be eating so much "extra" food. You should make, serve, and watch them eat all meals and snacks. When they are done, meal time is over, and food goes away.
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Old 10-07-2013, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Finland
6,319 posts, read 5,221,841 times
Reputation: 10153
Bread isn't usually a food that kids steal (usually it would be things like crisps, biscuits, cakes) so it does sound like they are actually hungry and if they are hungry then they need more food. I think Mattie's idea of a snack shelf is a good one. Unless there are health issues then I really don't think food should be limited.
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Old 10-07-2013, 04:34 PM
 
Location: Wisconsin
16,466 posts, read 15,905,878 times
Reputation: 38730
Quote:
Originally Posted by west seattle gal View Post
If kids are "stealing" food, either they all have a rare medical condition, or you and your husband are limiting their access to food and NOT FEEDING THEM ENOUGH. Kids need snacks, not just 3 meals per day, and sometimes they need more during growth spurts. Keep a ready supply of a variety of healthy foods for them to snack on throughout the day. This should include a variety of fruits/veggies, dried fruit, cheese, meat, peanut butter, hummus, whole grains, etc...

Once you and your husband no longer regulate food intake, in a few weeks the kids' appetites will self-adjust and they will eat exactly what their body needs. Finally, never use food or treats as a behavioral "reward". You do not want to encourage a maladaptive emotional response to food. Food is nourishment for kids & the amounts they need are directed by their bodies. Do NOT withhold (this goes for milk and water, too). Just keep the choices primarily healthy and varied, ensure protein, increase portion size and/or frequency, and make sure they have enough opportunities to play outdoors and be active. You and your husband need to change, not the kids. Yes, food can be expensive. Brainstorm some options, cut coupons, buy sale items, go to the food bank, start a garden. But make sure they are getting enough protein and nutrients.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natsku View Post
Bread isn't usually a food that kids steal (usually it would be things like crisps, biscuits, cakes) so it does sound like they are actually hungry and if they are hungry then they need more food. I think Mattie's idea of a snack shelf is a good one. Unless there are health issues then I really don't think food should be limited.
Excellent ideas.

It is extremely unusual for children, especially preschoolers, to "steal" food like the OP has described. Either they are not getting enough food at their meals and snacks or that they parents aren't actually watching them or eating meals with them (so they aren't actually eating the meals that are offered).
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Old 10-07-2013, 04:45 PM
 
43,012 posts, read 88,940,518 times
Reputation: 30255
Wow. Your poor kids. They must be having a very difficult time if they are all stealing food. You should never punish kids about food. Those punishments are probably contributing to their stealing food. Children steal food when they are having serious problems. Since ALL of your children are stealing, that means the problem is at home. It's something you and your wife are doing wrong. You need to get some serious professional help for your family.

Quote:
In children, food hoarding [and stealing] can take place for a variety of reasons, including neglect, deprivation, chaotic or disrupted home environments, difficulties in the school environment, disordered eating or other psychological problems.

Hoarding and Hiding | The Dr. Oz Show
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