5 Year Old Daughter Steals Food

Updated on April 06, 2011
R.K. asks from Chandler, AZ
39 answers

I have a 5 year old daughter who steals food from our cupboards. I am so frustrated at this cause I don't know why or understand why she does this. She gets food when she asks or if it close to dinner then I tell her she has to wait which isn't usually more than an hour. I just don't understand what her deal is. I have scolded her, yelled at her spanked her and told her she cant come in the kitchen (which doesn't really work cause that is where the water is and she needs a drink and it isn't really realistic to kick her out of the kitchen cause that is also where she does her homework and other things). I have told her that this is stealing and that the food she takes isn't just hers. she needs to ask for it plus thinking about her touching our food and not knowing where her hands have been is really gross (even though she washes her hands all the time its still gross). We had to put child locks on the doors for the baby and that seems to be working but now she is taking stuff from the counter. Any help would be very welcome.

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So What Happened?

I want to start off by saying thank you to all the responses I got. Good and not so nice. I also want to clarify a few things. By "stealing" I meant taking food without asking. In my home the food is for everyone BUT you need to ask for it first. There is certain food that she is not allowed to have because it is only for my husband and I but everything else is ok. We believe that if you don't ask for something, whether it be food at home or something from a store, you shouldn't take it hence "stealing". technically if you take something , anything , without asking isnt that stealing? I think so. If she were in the real world and took candy from somewhere cause she "wanted" it , hungry or not, then she would be stealing, same rules apply at home.
I provide her with a snack the minute she gets home from school and it usually is something healthy and she can have as much of that as she wants. I figure if its healthy and she eats a lot of carrots for example but not very much dinner cause she ate a bunch of carrots then that is ok cause at least it wasn't junk she filled up on. Cookies and junk food are a reward or desert kinda thing. My other kids are 13 and 10 year old girls and they have been raised with this thought as well. I don't believe that I am setting her up for an eating disorder even though I understand the important role that food control has on it. I don't think that it is an emotional thing either cause I give her as much attention as I can and she seems like a very well rounded kid. I think after reading the responses that it may be that I'm not giving her enough and she truly is still hungry.
Oh yeah and as for the "gross" thing. I don't know about you but my kids hands are everywhere. In their pants, petting the animals, outside in the grass and dirt, shoot even going to the store is a germ fest. I personally am thinking of it from a sanitary point of view and nothing else.
I have asked her why she took the food and she said that she was just hungry. I also talked to my husband about it and he agrees it maybe a hunger thing. So I plan on feeding her more good snacks. I think part of my problem was that for so long she only ate so much and now she wants more. I just need to take into consideration that she needs more and ajust myself to that.

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V.W.

answers from Albuquerque on

Do you really consider her "stealing". I think that's pretty harsh. She just wants to experiment and get a little independence.

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M.H.

answers from Albuquerque on

Hi Randi,
I also have a 5 year old and he gets really hungry also.
What about having healthy snacks in a location that she can get to and have it be her only spot special for her?

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C.S.

answers from Phoenix on

sounds like a power struggle to me. I would look at providing her with some places where you can give her a sense of some control in her life...choices you can live with, so she can begin to feel "powerful" in healthy places

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H.C.

answers from Phoenix on

R.,

I have to agree with some of the other moms, the food is the family food. Learn to pick your battles, this lesson will go a long way in their teen years. Food is a good thing. My daughter has been welcome to rummage through the kitchen all life, (she is 14) I keep it stocked with lots of healthy snacks. She knows she has to eat her meals, tho science (and more recently her Pediatric GI) has shown that smaller meals more frequently (every couple hours) is actually healthier. Every couple of hours, she grabs fruit, veggies, popcorn, snack bar, etc. and still eats her protein and salad at dinner. She even grabbs cookies when they are in the house and that is ok because she is healthy.
My advice to you is to ease up on your daughter. Keep the snacks healthy so that she is grabbing things that are good for her. It is amazing how pre-occupied with food teen girls are, so try not to make such a big deal about it when she is young. You don't want her to develop an eating disorder. She is your daughter - she is forever, hang on to her because before long she will be grown.

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K.N.

answers from Las Cruces on

Wow... I felt sad reading this. Perhaps you need to look at what the real issue is. It feels like you're looking at her as "dirty" or an outsider. My guess is she's taking food to fill an emptiness that has nothing to do with hunger. As a 5 year old who already has homework, she is capable of helping you cook and that would give her more of a sense of belonging. If she takes food that is intended for another meal, then she could experience the natural consequences of not having it when the time comes and you could say CALMLY not with anger or sarcasm, "well, we don't have that now for dinner because you ate it earlier" and let it go. She is a part of your family and needs to feel that food is part of home and belonging... maybe you could designate a specific place where the snacks she can help herself to any time are kept, and make sure they're healthy ones.

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J.L.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi R.!!!

I just want to say that I understood what you were saying about the whole "gross" thing! I am sorry but even a kid that constantly washes their hands can still be dirty! Just because they wash their hands regularly doesn't mean they didn't just pet an animal or use the restroom and forget to wash their hands - they are kids and this is to be expected. I see what my 3yr old does and let me say, I don't want her hands in food I am going to be eating! LOL

I feel for you and just want to say sorry for all of the not-so-nice comments you got! I was shocked!!! I thought this board is to help each other not scold or try to make someone feel bad about themselves!!! We are supposed to support each other and my opinion is the ones who gave those responses feel they are superior and better than everyone else! Okay enough of that, I just wanted you to know that you do have support here and some of the comments you received were out of line in my opinion.

One suggestion that I would make would be to get plastic containers for each of your children. Let them decorate them and those containers become theirs for snacks that they are allowed to have. Let them help choose what to put in there and I don't mean give them full-control. You pick certain items that they choose from - then they feel they had control in the decision! :-) If one of your children decides to take a snack that is not in their container then they get time-out or if you want to make it positive then you can do a point system or something. Each child will get points when they only take from their container. At the end of the day they get something special after dinner or something.

I also want you to know that you are absolutely correct!!! If someone takes something without asking it is stealing. Just because the food was bought for the household shouldn't mean that they get to take whatever whenever!!! I mean lets get realistic here...if I have money in my purse obviously that is money for the household but does that mean that my 18yr old can help himself whenever he wants or is it considered stealing if he takes it without asking? It is stealing!!!

I do want to add this also...do NOT allow other mothers to convince you that you are leading your daughter to an eating disorder!! If you check online about causes/risk factors they do NOT say this type of thing will cause that! Now, if you were telling your daughter that she was fat/ugly/etc. and that is why she can't take food without asking-then maybe! But I don't believe that is what is going on with your situation! It is so old people blaming their parents for everything that has gone wrong in their life!

Good luck to you and I hope all the negative posts didn't scare you away from seaking help! Please have a great day!!!

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C.E.

answers from Las Cruces on

It sounds like more of an emotional/compulsive issue than a hunger issue. I'd shrug off the "gross" thought and get over that. You are probably just as germ-ridden as she is. :-) (just teasing you)

I'd try to get to the bottom of why she is seeking out the attention on a habitual basis. I would also have a doc evaluate her to make sure there are no other health issues going on. You may need to adjust something. As for the emotional/compulsive part, try a counselor of some sort. She may not want to talk about it with you since she's been disciplined multiple times for it. My gut feeling is that it's an emotional thing. You are not a bad parent and she is not a bad child. It's just an issue that you need to figure out and go on.

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D.E.

answers from Phoenix on

Hello R.,
I agree with everyone else, isn't the food that you buy belong to everyone in the house? How can you disapline your child for wanting to eat? You will give her a eating disorder if you don't allow her to have the food and eat. If there is certain food that you don't want her to eat that belongs to your husband or yourself "diet food" then put that up, everything should be fair game.
D.

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M.O.

answers from Albuquerque on

Hi R.. I really don't understand what you're talking about... What do you mean that your daughter is "stealing" food? Isn't the food in your house hers too? Why are you calling it "stealing?" She's five-years-old and probably knows that she's hungry. Even my nearly 4-year-old son goes into the pantry or fridge and gets himself a healthy snack when he's hungry. I provide healthy snack options for him at levels that he can reach either in the pantry or the fridge. If there is junk food in the house it is in cupboards way above his head. I certainly wouldn't say that he is "stealing" food. That would imply that the food isn't his to eat. And, I would say that if I buy food for the household, then my son is welcome to eat it. IMHO, you need to rethink what the real issue is here...and I think it lies with you, not your daughter.

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M.D.

answers from Phoenix on

I'd be very careful when it comes to food issues. Eating disorders are already so prevalent in our society, you do not want to make food a control issue - it sounds as if it already is. I agree that your attitude that it is "stealing" and that it's "gross" is very negative. Everything in our house belongs to our family... that doesn't mean the kids can have whatever they want when they want, but it's not "mine" and "yours."

Likely, she needs to feel some control over when she can eat. I would reinforce that she needs to ask and choose healthy things, but I would totally back off. Get her a bin that is "hers" or just for "snacks" that you approve of. Put some fruit and a few other snacks in there each day and teach her that she is welcome to anything in that bin whenever she wants. Put the bin away when it is too close to dinner, but otherwise, let her feel that she has some control over her eating.

My friend is SO controlling of her daughter's eating that now the poor girl is gorging herself when mom's not around because mom "decides" if and when she's hungry, when she's had enough, etc. The other day, her mom wouldn't let her have a second serving of pineapple at my house because she'd had enough! This girl is 4 and not even chubby! She clearly has no ability to regulate herself... she has not learned to trust her own cues for when she's hungry or full because her mom "tells" her when she is.

Let your daughter learn these cues and have some decisions in the food and snacks she gets and when she can have thing. There are lots of kids in your house - it's easy for one child to feel a sense of chaos and lack of control over her surroundings.

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M.E.

answers from Anchorage on

Hi R. -

The need to take the food is not necessarily about your daughter being hungry. It sounds more like her need to feel in control of something. Most children are told what to do, when to do it and how to do it from the moment they get up in the morning until the moment they fall asleep at night. One of the few things that children can control is what they choose to - or not to - put in their mouths. I hope you are not saying anything to her about the germ issue. At the age of 5, children take everything that is said and absorb it like a sponge, deep into their hearts and hold it solid in their belief system about who they are. If she hears you tell her or others that you are concerned about "where her hands have been" then you may be raising a daughter who will feel she is "dirty." Is that what you really want? I don't think so or you wouldn't have asked for help. Take your focus away from the food and sit down - eye to eye - with your daughter and ask her why she is taking the food. No anger, no judgement - just the open heart of a mother who loves her daughter. If she is hungry, then maybe a compromise (even if it is close to dinner time) of half of what she wants.

It might even be as simple as a cry for attention. When she steals the food, she gets a reaction from you. Even though you didn't mention the ages of your children, I know that with 3 girls and a baby boy - time is of a premium. Maybe she just wants attention from you and is willing to do anything to get it????

Try talking and really listening to what she says instead of loosig your temper and punishing her. I'm hoping you will be genuinely surprised in the change in behavior.

Best wishes,
M. M. Ernsberger
Children & Family Life Coach
www.hypno4kids.com

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A.B.

answers from Phoenix on

As a person recovered from an eating disorder, I just want to say, please don't make food such a big issue for your daughter. Food can easily become a control/power issue between you and her and there is no good outcome to making it such a big deal and scolding her, spanking her, etc.

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K.P.

answers from Phoenix on

I am very sadden by some of your replies they are rude. I agree that just because it is the family's house that children should be aloud to just take food when they want it. Is she eating all of it or just taking it. If she is eating it trying giving her bigger meals and a few snacks eaten in the kitchen. You don't want your child eating snacks all day but not eating real food this just teaches bad habit for life as does eating all day. I agree that her touching food that cant be washed is unsanitary for the family i see what my six year old does. She always has to wash her hands thoroughly before she can help with food it just sanitation purposes. I am sorry you aren't getting more help. When i was little my mom made a drawer of healthy snacks apples, dry fruit, crackers and when we wanted a snack we went to that drawer and got one this may help alittle that way she isnt getting into food that really isnt healthy or meant as a snack.

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D.H.

answers from Flagstaff on

I am rooting for you R.! It looks like you have been given some great advice, and I do have to laugh at all the negative approaches given to you 'forcing" you use positive reinforcement. Ladies sheesh! She came for advice, not punishment. She obviously noticed that what she was doing wasn't working...hence the reason for the post. Sorda makes me scared to ask a question if I need to in the future. I like the ideas with the snack bins and what have you. Maybe when you see her come into the kitchen, give her a hug no matter how "into-your-elbows" you are in food. That may be all she needs. you can also give her a dinner time chore. She is old enough I think. (think being the key word, I only have a 1 and a half year old). She can stir somethings or take some paper towels and set silverware on them to set the table etc. They have so much energy at that age and they just get bored. Good luck to you! I wish you the best of luck.
Oh yeah!
I remember a lesson in psychology 101 a few years ago where my professor mentioned how we condition them from birth to stuff things in their mouths when they are uncomfortable. If they are crying we try milk or a binky almost everytime as a first reproach to make them feel better. Don't really have much to add to that..lol It just seems to make sense to me why they would be trying to use food gain comfort especially when mom is busy and needs to get things done in the house. letting her go play outside is easier said than done in this day and age when many of us live in appartments and are worried about all the kidnappers, child abusers, and other sickos lurking in the woods. O_o

Hang in there. Changes don't come over night.

D.

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T.T.

answers from Phoenix on

I agree with you R., my kids also need to ask for a snack... I wouldnt want them going through the fridge or pantry either... I would not want my kids eating snacks right before dinner or lunch, or even picking some of the junk food we have as treats for the kids... plus, like im sure you do, we have food in the house that is just for me or just for my husband (for instance WW food, special cookies for dads lunch)... maby a set concequence for taking food with out permission would work, like taking away TV time or a toy each time she takes food with out asking... if not just for the day, maby for a week. If worst comes to worst get the TOT LOCKS for the cabinets and a fridge latch. Im sure you already know and do give her, but just in case... remember they do need 3 meals and 2 snacks a day.

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R.G.

answers from Albuquerque on

I try to keep healthy snacks available to my children at all times (apples, carrots, cheese, almonds). The idea for me is that I want them to be able to recognize when they are hungry and when they are full so that they can learn to monitor their own eating. An hour is a long time for a five year old to wait when they are hungry.

Sometimes my children are so ravenous by the time they get home from school that they will eat yogurt, bananas, carrots, almonds, corn chips with salsa, sugar snap peas, a bagel, and then, of course, not be hungry when it's time for dinner. I insist that we all sit down together during dinner, and they might graze (or, sometimes, be ready for a whole other meal), but I don't insist that they eat beyond their own hunger. Their little bodies grow at different rates and different times, and I've learned to trust that they know what they need.

I'm certain if I told my children they couldn't snack that they would sneak food out of the cabinets as well--hunger is no trivial thing. Good luck working things out with your daughter. It isn't easy to parent, and I think one of the best lessons we learn is to trust our children, and to trust them to know themselves better than anyone.

Best Wishes.

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M.A.

answers from Phoenix on

Wow- some of the responses are surprising! I have the same issue with my older son, and we take the perspective it is stealing as well. He would climb on the counters to get at the dessert foods, whether it was the middle of the night, or EARLY morning.
My solution was to 'catch' him. He understood perfectly it was not acceptable and to ask permission, but the thrill of the successful snatches he did get away with, I think, were gratifying to him.
I started keeping my door open, waking early, and I would hide all the food he wanted after he went to bed to take away the 'sweet treat' reward- the gratification that came from sneaking under the radar( and he was pretty good) I had to catch him EVERY time and give him stern discipline(No treats hat day, if he had eaten treats early morning, he would have to wait til mid morning snack, etc. He would eat entire bags of cookies, chips,etc.). The key was catching him every time though. He has stopped now because he thinks I am standing just around the corner. I can tell when he is tempted to snitch something- he will go into the kitchen and stare at the cupboards for a long time. When he looks around to see who is watching, there I am. Watching him- when he sees me, he gets this 'oh' look on his face. I smile and ask him if he is hungry or thirsty and he usually says yes. Then I prompt him to ask me for the food, and when he does, I give it to him. This is only for the snacks and such, not meals. He knows to ask now, and that if he does, there is usually something to eat.

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J.R.

answers from Phoenix on

I think steal is a very strong word to use. It isn’t stealing if it is in her home and meant for her to eat. Try to focus on why you don't want her in the food. Because it is dinner time and her hands are dirty. My 4 yr old was taking marshmallows in secret so I moved them and gave her something healthy to snack on until dinner. Their metabolisms are so different she really was hungry. Maybe that is why your daughter is eating.

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C.L.

answers from Phoenix on

You've done a good job at explaining it to her. Now to work on prevention. Give her a snack 2 hours before dinner. Then an hour before dinner preoccupy her with activities, coloring, play outside, toys, playdoh, movies, etc.

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S.S.

answers from Phoenix on

My suggestion would be to talk to her about it. You need to find out why she feels the need to take the food. If she is actually eating the food that she is taking, that leads me to believe that she is in fact hungry. Children are all different with their eating depending upon their activity levels and ages. 5 year olds are typically very active and growing steadily. Most of the 5 years olds that I know, including my own, tend to "graze" throughout the day. Perhaps your daughter needs to eat small meals more frequently and drink more water. In our house, we still have breakfast and dinner together as a family but my sone definitly eats a variety of things after school leading up to dinner. I still require that he eats his meal but I don't give him such huge portions. He can always ask me for more and frequently does.

Is she choosing sweets when she gets the food? Perhaps you need to work out a special time of day for her to have a sweet snack (after school or desert after dinner if she eats well. Of course the sweets/desert is whatever you want that to be in your household, it may be a piece of fruit or a yogurt or icecream, etc. Just explain to her the rules of eating sweets as you have established them for your family. Offer her other nutritious choices instead if she is hungry.

Put food in your cupboards that she is allowed to eat and get for herself. 5 years olds love to be independent. She might really like being able to choose something and open it herself and then she doesn't have to interupt you to help her. We have little bags of pretzels, Goldfish crackers, Teddy Grahams, etc. In the refrigerator we have apples, grapes, sugar free jello cups, yogurt and juice boxes. You will need to establish guidelines for how much she can have but trust her to follow those guidelines.

I wouldn't accuse a 5 year old of stealing food from her own home and then disciplining her for it. There has to be a reason behind her need of the food. Maybe you should include her in meal preparation rather than ban her from the kitchen. My 5 year old loves to "help me cook". He likes to pour things into the mixing bowls and stir ingredients together (obviously he has nothing to do with sharp utensils and the stove)and he also likes to set the table.

I think this is an easy fix for both of you. You just need to communicate with her and work together so that you are both content and happy with the outcome.

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J.J.

answers from Phoenix on

I dont know what to tell you. I was brought up in a home where food belonged to everyone and everyone was allowed to eat it. Not trying to be mean or anyting but why do you have food in the house that is only for your husband? Is he on a special diet that could endanger the kids? or is it just and entitlement issue. hoarding food sounds a lot like an emotional issue. I know that you may not think that she is leadingup to or has an eating disorder but hoarding food is a common symptom. children that are belittled and looked down upon also hoard food. I guess it is in preparation for being without food. that is jsut a natural reaction. it seems to me that you may be making a big issue out of nothing important. and in the process you may be hurting your childs emotional health. if you dont want her to eat junk food, then dont have it in the house. fi she knows that she is not restircted form food maybe she wont "steal" it. stealing is a rather harsh word and if you are blaming her for this, you jsut may be the cause of the problem. how can a child "steal" food. sustenance that you as a parent are supposed to provide?

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C.H.

answers from Flagstaff on

I believe your daughter is testing her boundries with you. She wants to see how far she can get and how to rattle your cage. My son was doing the same thing, still does every now and again. The thing is being consistent with the discpline. For example, my son has to go into timeout when he has "sneaky fingers", when he gets out we discuss it. This works for my first son, I have to use a different tactic with my middle son. Be calm, be consistent and be patient and eventually your daughter will come around. It takes and instant to learn a bad habit and a very long time to break it.

I don't think it is wrong to establish good eating habits now. Try not to get so upset over the "theft". She is pushing your buttons. Having a consistent punishment every single time she "steals" will give her security knowing where her boundries are. When she is secure enough, she will stop stealing and ask for the snack.

Hang in there! You know you are a good mother. Remember your daughter is 5 when she is driving you insane but you love her to distraction.

From the insane mother of three little terrors the world calls little boys.

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J.C.

answers from Phoenix on

I agree that the food in OUR house if for everyone. I wouldn't call it 'stealing' unless she is sneaking it into a corner or taking it into her room to consume. It is possible that you might need to adjust her meal times or provide a healthy snack prior to dinner. At our house if our children are hungry before dinner they are welcome to take anything out of 'their' snack drawers, if they ask. We have a snack drawer in the pantry and one in the fridge. The fridge contains yogurt, apples, string cheese, fresh veggies in individual packages, etc. They are welcome to have one thing before dinner. Our pantry contains individual packages of pretzels, goldfish and crackers. They know that if they ask for a snack they are still expected to eat dinner. If they don't eat their dinner, I at least know that they won't go to bed hungry and they had part of a healthy meal since all that they are allowed to pick are healthy items. We do not keep cookies, chips or junk food in our home and that really cuts down on them filling up with junk before meals or for snacks. Just a suggestion, but I think that the food that is in the kitchen should be for all family members. They do need to ask prior to taking it, but I don't see any reason why a healthy snack before a meal is a problem.

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K.C.

answers from Phoenix on

Dear R.,
It sounds like just a control issue. It is something she has learned that she has control over and is not always "being bossed." Do you give her choices when it is snack time? They all need one healthy snack between meals and even a choice between two or three things gives them a feeling that they have some control in their lives. She should also be given choices about what to wear (choose from two or three outfits ONLY that you pick for the occasion) and the clothes or toys you buy her.
Why do you HAVE to keep food on the counters? Try out-of-reach places for things you have to keep out, like on top of the refrigerator, in a different upper unlocked cupboard where you keep mostly dishes, etc. ALWAYS enforce and encourage hand-washing after playing outside, using the bathroom and before eating ANYTHING. Praise her for good behavior in all these areas. Hope this helps.
K.

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J.M.

answers from Albuquerque on

The child is obiously not getting enough of something, it maybe food, or it may be an emotional thing and she is going to food as a comfort. Your attitude on her touching food and it being GROSS is a little childish of you which leads me to think she may not be getting enough emotional support to satify her needs and that can be an even bigger problem in a larger family. With so little information I can only be guessing, but with four children of undetermand ages two at least under 6 I think it might help to get some advice from a professional and punishing her will only make it worse. There is most likely a basic need that is not being meet with this child and she and you need help to resolve it. Punishment is not the only answer to all the solutions.

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J.V.

answers from Phoenix on

If she is "stealing food" then I would say there is a reason behind it that you need to get to, instead of punishing her. Maybe she is hungry, and you are not allowing her to eat. She could be going through a growth spurt and need more food. And, no offense, but it is not "gross" that she is touching the food. Sounds like maybe you need to deal with your compulsion issues, as you are taking them out on your child, which is really not fair or ok. I would ask her why she is taking food and try to figure it out. She's not doing it for no reason. Maybe you can have a small stash of appropriate food for her to take, that she can get when she is hungry. That is what I do for my son.

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J.S.

answers from Flagstaff on

R.

Wow you have probably an overload of advice right now. Some extreme both ways. And I think you are great for being so concerned and looking wherever you can for advice. I think it is good for kids to have boundaries in all things and food is one of them. But I just want to put in support for the advice to be careful on placing too much emphasis on what food can and can not be eaten and when. I think this definitely can lead to unhealthy food attitudes later and food preoccupation. I grew up in a family of 8 children and food was never a free for all. If there was something good to eat it was almost definitely off limits or the attitude was get it first before someone else does. I think this feeling of not being able to eat the things around me or having to "secretly" eat it so no one else would know has definitely led to certain unhealthy attitudes I have. Good luck finding a solution that works for you.

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J.S.

answers from Santa Fe on

I'm sure this is quite frustrating for you! I just wanted to strongly caution you against creating negative feelings around food, especially for a little girl. If she feels "bad" around food, you can be setting her up for a lifetime of food issues and unhealthy or secrative behaviors around food. Speaking as someone with an eating disordered background, those early experiences really can stick with you long term and become quite difficult to address later in life. Can you maybe have a drawer or cabinet with snacks she is allowed to have access to? You could put small and healthy things in it so she won't spoil her meals. Good luck to you, R., and take care!

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K.F.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi R., I wouldn't call it stealing and maybe she's hungry. She is only 5. Try not to be so rough on her. I don't know the full circumstances, but it is only food. Is she overweight and maybe that's why you are so concerned? I don't mean to sound so negative toward your problem, but I can kind of relate, my teenage son eats everything in sight and he says its because he is hungry. I can't tell him not to eat food that is in his house. If there is a certain item you don't want her eating, hide it and give it out when you see fit. I have to do that sometimes, especially items I buy for the kids lunches.
Just take it easy on her and try not to worry about it so much. Take care, K. F.

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A.W.

answers from Dallas on

I have spent countless hours researching answers to this problem. My daughter is 8 years old and continues to get up while we are sleeping and takes food. She hides apple cores, banana peels, wrappers, milk, cream, etc. We have dealt with bug infestations, finding sour, molded, rotten milk, cream, and other foods. We cannot ignore the problem when there are health/sanitary issues at stake. This has continued for years despite all our efforts to address the problem. We have tried every suggestion we could find. We given consequences, locked cabinets, stopped purchasing junk food (we have three children). We decided to respond with less limits and tried giving her her own container of healthy snacks she can eat freely and have allowed her the right to freely help herself to fruit, vegtables, and an array of other healthy choices without permission or limits. We have responded with everything from limits and consequences to permission to get food without permission and still she continues to take and hide the food. We give snacks and deserts daily and have never deprived the kids of food. There are times when we don't have junk food for snacks or desert, however, most of the time we do. We have approached this from every angel we can find and still the behavior continues. We are at a loss as to what to do. Punishment or consequences have not worked. Locking cabinets has not worked. Allowing her to eat freely of most any food aside from junk food doesn't work. We are not comfortable in allowing her to eat freely of any and all junk food when she pleases and have two other children as well that we want to raise with healthy limits. I am at a complete loss as to what to do anymore. We have tried all that has been criticized and all that has been suggested and have made no progress. We have talked at length with her, gave extra attention, and tried the other end by not giving it alot of attention or energy, just simple reminders with no anger or consequences. We have taken her to therapy. Does a parent just allow this to continue?

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K.E.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi R.'
I have to say I am shocked at all the negative comments toward you on this responce page. This is such a difficult issue to deal with and there are so many different ways to handle it. We are not in you house with you to see how bad it is. I do agree that there must be something else causing her need for food. You really should talk to a Dr. about it. I don't remember the name of it but there is a neurological disorder that many people have that make them feel like they are hungry all the time. And they eat compulsivly. Try your best to stay calm about it in the mean time but really find out what the real issue is. I don't think she has as much control over her bahavior as we might think. Also keep things like carrots and fruit available to her at all times. If she eats good stuff all day long whats the harm in that. If she throws a fit for something eles just say if you are really that hungry than you would want to eat this apple. If you are just tring to get junk food then the answer is no. I don't want you to be hungry, but I do want you to be happy AND healthy.
Please get it checked out though. It could be more serious than you think.

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D.J.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi R.!
I'm sorry to see so many negative responses to question. I've struggled with one of my boys with the same issue, so even though I'm in the positive-response minority, thought I'd chime in.
I did start letting my kids pick out "their snacks" at the grocery store so I was sure they had something they actually liked to snack on. That did help a bit, but didn't stop my son from sneaking food to his room and stashing it. And over time we found it interferred with his dinner appetite, so we eventually had to lock the pantry in the afternoons. This was short-lived, and mainly to get his attention. (we have pets and were concerned with the kids having food in their rooms too)
To this day my 14 year old still isn't a big fan of vegetables, but he eats his dinners now and has learned a great habit of snacking on fruits in the afternoon and saving treats for after dinner.
Also, we are a home that has "household" foods and then we also have foods that are "person specific". I'm the only one that gets to eat the Jenny Craig food, the kids each get special treats that is their own, the kids don't eat Dad's lunches, etc. Just think it's good for them to learn to have respect for each other's stuff, even if it is food. Our daughter learned the hard way when she moved out that roommates DO NOT like it when you eat all their food.

Good luck R.,
D.

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L.H.

answers from Albuquerque on

You need to get to the roots of why ?

I have had foster children who hoarded foods, milk (disgusting as it would be soured by the time I found it).

She may be feeling insecure as you have several children, she may feel hungry all the time ?

Get her an emergency preparedness kit ... of sealed foods, water bottles, etc. I did this with a diabetic foster child, gave him a case of water bottles to keep under his bed, so he wasn't always taking drinks, foods ... to lay around on floor or in closet. Then when our water was shut off one day, he ran to get me one of his bottles to brush my teeth and wash my face with !!! Interesting ! It gave him a feeling of being in control, for any emergency !

L.

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A.M.

answers from Phoenix on

My kids also ask for a snack at this time. I usually do a piece of fruit or a popsicle, this doesn't seem to fill them up very much and they still are hungry for dinner. As it's warming up, they seem to have a bigger appetite. She could very well be going through a growth spurt and she's just simply more hungry than usual. I would say if there's not a concern about her weight, just let her have a snack that doesn't fill her up (like crackers, bread, cereal) try fruit, a cup of juice, popsicle, or some veggies. My kids like a big, uncut carrot and pretend they are a rabbits. Hope this helps. A.

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A.B.

answers from Phoenix on

Does she eat the food she takes?
If so...she is still hungry after meals or gets hungry between, some kids do eat more than others especially when they are in the growing stages.
Perhaps you can set a small basket on the counter with
some "between meal snacks" just for her. One basket in the morning and one in the afternoon, and tell her that that is "her" basket, and to pick one snack at a time from the basket.
Just an idea.

Oh...by the way, I forgot to add the first time to this, that I took one of my vegtable bin drawers and made it for my daughter (in your case -you could make it for "the kids") and fill it with applesauces,yogurts, and other healthy individual snacks. This has become the "kiddy" snack drawer for the items that are "mother approved" and need refrigeration.

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S.S.

answers from Tucson on

Hi there,
Most preschool children are what are called grazers. They don't eat 3 meals a day they eat 5-6 very small meals a day, which is a much healthier way to eat.
So you don't need to cook 5-6 small meals a day, you can have 5-6 small containers in your refridge that you fill each morning with things you allow her to have and when she is hungry you open the refridge and she gets 1 of the meals and sits down to eat. Most preschools understand this about small children which is why they have snack several times a day.
Give it a shot it works very well.
The Mommie Mentor, www.proactiveparenting.net (notice .net)

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T.M.

answers from Phoenix on

R.,
I understand what you are going through. I have a 6 year old daughter that does the same thing. I catch her and find things in her room all of the time.
It is important that our children know what the rules are and what the positive and negatice consequences are.
It seems like there is a boundary issue with our childeren.
I have 4 kids and we have the rule that if it isn't yours don't touch it. When they choose to break that rule, there is a consequece. To know how to consequence them effectively there is a book called the 5 Love Languages. I recommend it.
I have found that I need to be firm with my daughter and we only eat in the kitchen at the table. The kitchen is only open when the light is on. When our meals are eaten, then they earn snack.

It is hard to be strick and others that are commenting haven't walked in your shoes.

Hang in there...being a mother is the most exciting and the hardest job you will ever have to do!

I am here if you want to talk,
T. ###-###-####

www.tesabartell.myarbonne.com

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T.H.

answers from Chicago on

Have you ever thought to just sit down and talk to her about it? I think it's an attention getter. She has 3 other siblings, plus animals, and is probably starving for your attention.

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C.O.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi. I didn't read all your responses but we just adopted 5 kids. My oldest was stealing when she first moved in. Our situation was different because she was used to not being feed so it was a survival for her. I read one message to you that said how can they steal when its theirs too. Its about teaching your kids there is a time and place for everything. Also about teaching them to ask permission. Our kids (all 5) would literately eat our entire pantry if they could! No !! I'm not exaggerating! Trust me!! Yes they would be full and be sick but it wouldn't stop them.

What worked for us, sounds strange, but it worked. Keep a food item in her room. A bag of cereal, bread or something in a bag and let her sleep with it. We couldn't do that because she would eat it and we'd find crumbs but that is what your "supposed to do" so instead we put a can food of vegetables in her room and said if she doesn't get fed, she can have it. She was smart enough to ask how does she open it lol We said, if your hungry, you'll find away. It comforted her enough to know it was there. We just took it out of her room yesterday (after 5 months of living here). However, she stopped stealing within a month of me putting it in her room.

Let me know what works for you.

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