lanie_gooch asks:

My 11 year old daughter continuously steals food (only sweets) from home and from school. I cannot figure out how to get her to stop. Any ideas?

For a few years now, my daughter, now 11, takes sweets from the kitchen, hides them in her room and eats them. It has escalated to her stealing candy from a teacher and giving it to another teacher, while eating some herself. I do not allow any of my 3 children to have very many sugary snacks, trying to keep them healthy and teaching them that sugary snacks are only for special occasions. Normally she confesses after a few days, but right now we are missing and entire bottle of honey and she won't "fess up" this time. I'm at the end of my rope, I don't know what to do to get her to stop taking food and how to effectively discipline her when she does it (both for stealing food and lying about it). It's causing serious problems with our home life, and I just need some advise from others who have been through this.
Any thoughts, ideas, or discipline tactics that have worked for others would be greatly appreciated!

Question asked after reading:
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



Oct 25, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

The article that you read before asking your question is a helpful one, and offers some sound ideas for dealing with young children's ability to sort reality. However, at 11 children are typically more able to know what is a lie.  In your daughter's case there appears to be more going on than just the lying and "stealing" of the sweets. There are signs of an emerging pattern of disordered eating behavior.  Discipline in the form of rules, consequences, and follow through is important, but it is equally important that the consequences and follow through happen with a no-shaming policy.  My best suggestion is to consult a clinical social worker or psychologist who can help you to determine the underlying causes for this type of behavior and its escalation. You might want to choose a professional who has experience dealing with families since you mention that this is causing problems in your home life.
Good luck and let us know how it goes.
Bette J. Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, CGP
Clinical Social Worker
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