T.S. asks from Spring Valley, IL on January 03, 2009
10-Year Old Boy "Stealing" Sweats from the Kitchen After Refusing to Eat Dinner
I am at my wit's end! I've gotten some excellent advice from all you awesome mamas before, and I'm hoping for some more! I have tried everything to stop my son from sneaking into the kitchen for sweets (chocolate, cookies, poptarts, anything he can find) and I am getting so frustrated! He has always been a picky eater and refuses to eat anything I make for dinner. No meat of any kind, no potatoes or noodles or rice, and definitely no vegetables. After dinner or bedtime, he sneaks into the kitchen to gorge himself on sweets. This never used to be a problem, but due to the layout of our new house, I cannot see into the kitchen from the family room and the bedrooms are on the other side. I have put the food I know he likes up on high shelves, but he gets chairs. I even put bells on the cabinets (for Christmas) but he found out how to silence them. It's a little creepy how quiet he can be! (lol) I don't think it's fair to the other four members of the house to just stop buying treats, but I don't know what else to do! I have asked him what he will eat that I can make, but I am not ordering out pizza every night. I keep telling him that if he would just eat his dinner (I'm not even a member of a clean plate club, I just want him to eat until he's full) he could ask for some and I would say yes. I have never been super strict with the treats, so he can't be over compensating for a lack of them at some point. He's currently writing sentences for eating an entire bag of kit kat miniatures. Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks!
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A.G. answers from Chicago on January 03, 2009
I am of the old addage, they will eat eventually. Seriously...I know as mom's we don't like to see our kids go hungry, but sometimes they need that. I have to do this every now and again with my six year old. I wouldn't say he's a picky eater so much as he's just stubborn at times, and pokey, and likes to make a stink about things. I set a a timer at dinner 30 min., and if he's not done, not only does he not get dessert, he can go to morning without anything else (we do a light bed time snack in our house). He also can only have water if he does this. He gets mad, but oh well. That's the deal in our house, becaus ewhen he gets in his "moods" as I like to call them, I justt refuse to coerce, argue, etc. about it. I just say "you know the deal" The other thing I do is serve the kids itty bitty portions, about half to a quarter of a normal portion, figuring they can always eat more if they are still hungry. It seems like when I do this it is less overwhelming, and then they end up eating more with less complaining this way. This also avoids the clean plate club syndrome, because I do not beleive in that either. You eat until you are full. We also make them eat their veggies if they want dessert too. My sic year old would have to eat six small broccoli tops and my two year old two. I know your son may be old for the eating as many as he is old, but he's also old enough for you to explain the importance of fiber in his doet too, and how it keeps his heart and digestive system working well, and candy does not, etc. The other thing I just thought of was this, now keep in mind my mother is an old school Italian lady here. When the three of us got to be around your sons age growing up, we did stuff like that too. Sneak to get the treats, etc. So my Mom started putting them in tins labled Dog Biscuits (if you have a dog this could work great). that way we would leave him, and it gave her control over how many cookies etc, we could have. She also would hide them in weird places that kids just don't think to look, like the veggie crisper LOL. Hope this helps
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S.B. answers from Chicago on January 04, 2009
My 16 year old has always been a picky eater and I never catered to him, or forced him to eat anything. He's eventually become better at eating a more balanced meal, but I didn't have the problem with sweets that you're having.
Honestly? Who will be missing the candy, cookies and pop tarts if they aren't there? He's your oldest and I doubt the 3 or 1/2 year old will miss them, so the people who will, must be you and your husband. If you must have that in your house, then keep them in your bedroom, don't let him know they're there, and only eat them when he isn't around. Or maybe just buy something - or make it - one item at a time so there isn't a storehouse of the items he can go to.
I buy very few sweets because as a single mom, I just don't have the money to indulge. I buy one package of cookies, one box of pop tarts, and one ice cream product every week. When it's gone, it's gone. I only shop on the weekend and the kids know this. Not that they make it last, but they know if they eat an entire package of cookies on Sunday, there won't be anymore until next week.
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A.N. answers from Chicago on January 04, 2009
We have three kids.... 6,3,2. We have started only feeding them what we have for dinner. If they choose not to eat it - they get nothing else until breakfast. We've done this now for about 6 months (after being so frustrated with them sitting down at the dinner table & saying they didn't like anything). We are amazed at what they eat now. They realized we were not caving into late night snacks after they refused to eat their dinner. There were a few nights they went to bed hungry... oh well. This has helped their willingness to try new things & actually discover they do like things.
I agree with the other posters - you either have to get rid of it for awhile (which would not be a bad thing for everyone's eating habits) or lock it up securely. If he can continue getting away with his behavior - it sounds like he will. At 10 - I imagine kids can get quite creative. He will set the pace for your younger ones too - so it's good to get his eating under control - both at the dinner table & the snacking.
He will eventually eat something. Kids do not starve themselves. If all he has to choose from is healthy foods (or reasonably healthy) - he'll eat it.
Stay strong mama! :>)
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S.A. answers from Chicago on January 04, 2009
Okay my personal opinion....you aren't punishing your family is you don't buy sweets. The rest of the family doesn't need them either. A sweet like chocolate should be a treat and that should be once in awhile not daily....because then it isn't a treat it is a part of your diet.
If your family is eating pop tarts, small chocolates, cookies, chips and such daily...then they aren't treats at all.
So that said, and it is my opinion, I wouldn't buy that junk. That way if he didn't eat what you cooked, then he wouldn't eat. Eventually he will get hungry and eat what you cook. And you have to set the example. If he's sneaking the treats and won't eat anything else then he has a problem and maybe needs some counseling now before it becomes a serious health problem. Don't buy the junk......if the rest of the family needs a treat once in awhile, then make it a tradition to stop at the store on Friday night and have a pizza night with rootbeer floats afterwards. Pick a snack for that one night a week. Only buy it on Friday nights or whatever day you choose and then throw out the leftovers.
For my girls, they can have soda if we go out to eat. They can share a chocolate candy if they are good in the store (so that's once a month when they are with me). They get some chocolate in their stocking at Christmas time and Easter. They have to ration it and make it last. If they sneak it, it goes in the trash. They have chips if we go to a party. At home we eat healthy foods exept once a week we will have a pizza party (eat frozen pizza) and watch a kids movie together.
I would seriously consider some counseling to figure out why he goes to such extremes though.
A.H. answers from Waterloo on January 04, 2009
First of all, it sound like some major diet changes are needed in your entire household. How many sweets can one family need? You shouldn't have more than you could easily grab to put away where he can't get them. Lock them in the car if you have to! It takes about 20 tries to see if a child actually likes something, so just keep trying on the good things. There are many ways to "sweeten" veggies and other food with cheese or spices that are good for you. A great cookbook is 'Deceptively Delicious'...teaches you how to sneak veggies into foods that he already eats. At 10 years old though he should be listening- this is more of a dicipline problem than anything. Also, if he doesn't have a weight problem already, it's probably quickly on the way...which affects him for his entire life. Good luck
C.W. answers from Chicago on January 04, 2009
Have you thought about teaching him to make smoothies? Whole Foods carries great nutritional value, protein, fiber, vitamins, etc... and he can experient with different fruits for sweetness. Could use honey also for extra sweetness if needed. These shakes can be very filling, nutritious and cure his sweet tooth while you are still encouraging a "real meal".
Not sure where you are located, but paleomeal is a great shake powder available at Dr. Majors/Planet Chiropractic at 135th & Weber Road. The promote a very natural diet and have harsh criteria for products they carry.
E.S. answers from Chicago on January 03, 2009
I would say you have to move the treats - all of them - to somewhere he can't get to them. I moved all mine to a childproof cabinet that I have to stand on a chair to get, because I had the same problem with my 3 and 5 year olds, but that wouldn't work with a 10 year old. Maybe put them in a file cabinet with a lock that only you and your husband have the key to? Sounds a little extreme, but my guess is that if he isn't able to get his hands on a full bag of candy bars, he will eventually be hungry enough to eat his dinner.
B.D. answers from Chicago on January 04, 2009
I would get rid of all the sweets in your house. I have done this before. I even threw them out IN FRONT of my kids. I was beyond frustrated and it seemed to work. Now they ask before getting a snack or drink.
It would be a 'waste' of money BUT you will hopefully fix the problem.
And the next time you shop... make better choices with what you buy.