how to punish 3 year old that steals snacks constantly?

Elizabeth - posted on 09/06/2011 ( 98 moms have responded )

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i would like to know how to break her of this.

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Jenni - posted on 09/06/2011

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Why don't you try a 'snack drawer' that's she's *allowed* to have snacks from. Fill it full of healthy snacks like; apples, crackers, rice cakes, dried fruit etc.



Also do you offer her small snacks inbetween meals?



I wouldn't call it 'stealing'. At 3 she has no concept of stealing. Maybe she just needs some independence in satisfying one of her basic needs. If meals aren't up for debate, maybe allow her to decide what snacks she has. Offer her a choice between two healthy snacks.



Anything you don't want her taking or having, lock it up.

JuLeah - posted on 09/06/2011

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We don't break children.

If you punish her all she will learn is how to steal without getting caught

There is a reason she is doing this

3 yr olds don't understand abstract ideas like this, so you can't hold her to the same standards you might a 23 yr old

She is not getting something in her diet, something nutrutionaly that she needs and this is her way of solving that problem

Do not have unhealthy snacks anywhere in the house

Have healthy snacks out for her to help herself to ... carrot sticks, apple slices ....

She is of course not eating processed, sugar added, dye and checmicals, trans fats types of foods, so her hunger must be coming from too little food ... three meals and a couple of snacks a day - if she is growing, she will need more

Vanessa - posted on 09/06/2011

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The snacks should not be accessable to her. They should be put up high out of her reach. If she is a climber then put a lock on the cabinet. Our son had to ask for snacks at one point b/c he was totally taking advantage of it at that point. Maybe put 2 snacks out & tell her this is for the entir day once gone no more snaks for the rest of the day. Hope this helps.

Michelle - posted on 09/06/2011

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Uhm, yes, a child begins to understand punishment and consequence very early, even as early as a few months old. They KNOW that the consequence of crying gets mom. They KNOW that the consequence of biting mommy will get a "NO." They know very well what consequences are and it would be naive to believe otherwise. Do they know exactly what to expect with bad behavior choices? Perhaps not, but once they find out, they will know. Too many parents don't give kids credit for being smart little boogers. They can manipulate as early as a few weeks old. They KNOW. How? I don't exactly know, but they know. It's why baby cries for mommy when left home with daddy for the first time. It's why grandma can hold baby without crying and mommy gets the whiny baby. They know. All that to say a 3 year old will not learn consequences if they aren't given any. I don't suspect it's so much a matter that the kid is taking food as much as it is that they are taking it without permission. Make consequences. Let her know if she does it again, then this is her consequence, and unless you have let her have free reign for the last 3 years, she knows you mean what you say. Even at 3. And for pete's sake, you better mean what you say! If she's hungry she should know all she has to do is ask and you, using your judgement (like did she just eat) decide whether she needs to eat or not. Don't let her fool you. They will ALL try to at one time or another. Be strong and don't be afraid to be the parent. The world needs more parents not afraid to make jr unhappy.

Kate CP - posted on 09/07/2011

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Generally speaking, milk is very high in sugar and carbs. Sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar. Doesn't matter if it's natural or processed: your body will process it the same way no matter what. When you add in those favorite syrups to flavor the milk the carb and sugar count go through the roof. If you don't want to give milk, or are afraid that it's too high in sugars and carbs, you can give a child a myriad of other foods that are high in calcium and fat and NOT high in sugar. Broccoli is high in calcium and folic acid, cheese, yogurt, and a host of other foods are all great for kids and high in calcium.

Milk is not the end-all be-all to giving a kid calcium. They don't HAVE to have it.

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Constancia - posted on 09/08/2011

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not all the time they are hungry why they are getting food . from early age they must learn to ask permission .It depends on the rearing of the parents. you alone know your kids....

Margaret - posted on 09/08/2011

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If you want to teach your child that whoever is biggest gets to call the shots, right or wrong, go ahead. Just remember that you child will be bigger than you one day.

Constancia - posted on 09/08/2011

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you talk to him and tell him why she will not do that. spank is sometimes need to do just to feel that there is a superiority in the house or in the family, that he/ she is doing wrong. she must know and feel about it. according to the Bible she might be good.in Proverbs 23:13for if youbeat him/her with the rod ,he shall not die.

Margaret - posted on 09/08/2011

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Either your 3 year old is still hungry, or she's addicted to carbs. Carbs, such as sugar and wheat, are highly addictive, as you can tell from the fact that we never get an intense craving for green beans or spinach. The best solution to this is not to have unhealthy snacks in your house and wean her from grains and sugar. I also agree that it is wrong to characterize taking food from one's own home as "stealing" and sets up a negative feeling in your 3-year-old. You have the stuff around; you're the "pusher", so don't blame her if she's hooked and don't call it stealing and tell her she's a thief. She's not the one making decisions at the grocery store.

Kandy - posted on 09/08/2011

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out of sight out of mind, put them up high enough where she cant see them or easily get to them, or better yet buy her fresh fruits and veggies to snack on then if she gets into them shes still eating healthy

Mary - posted on 09/08/2011

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I don't think it should ever be sadi a child is stealing food from their own home . I don't see it that way . If there are things you want restricted then you put them where they can't have access and you give it to the child as mandated . And you talk to the child and and explane they can't have these as they want them only as treats . And you have to relize a 3 year old has no attention span and only rembers what you say two seconds after you say it . It is up to you the parent to keep talking and and explaining . When a child take's something out side of the home then it is stealing and a three year old dose not apply . They don't know better .

Sarah - posted on 09/08/2011

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I still have the same problem with my son and he's 6! I would feed him regularly & well. I don't deny him food if he says he uis hungry.,..unless of course we have litterally just had lunch, which for him usually involves 3-4 courses! He would steal ANYTHING. I once found the empty packet from Dog chocolate hidden in his room. We now have locks on all the cupboards, the fridge and on the door leading out to the garage where our deep freezer is.

He lacks nothing in his diet....

Does my head in!

Susan - posted on 09/08/2011

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My daughter is older now (23) but still remembers falling when she climbed up on the bench to take unhealthy snacks from a high cupboard. My advice is to have healthy snacks on hand, beware of putting unhealthy snacks in high cupboards if the chidlren know they are there, and keep a positive fun attitude to your child. My daughter also did hide cheese in her bedroom dispite the fact that healthy snacks including cheese were always available. I could never understand her reasons but I do know my husband did a similiar thing with icing sugar when he was a child. I did not make an issue of her snack sneaking and hiding and she has grown to be a healthy happy mother with a new baby of her own. I wonder if new bubs will have the same habits. S.J.

Catherine - posted on 09/08/2011

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I don't agree w/ labeling it 'stealing' either...there is a reason this child is feeling a need to eat a lot of snacks..and since I don't see the original mother commenting on here at all...it's awfully hard to know what the actual problem is. Is the child hungry, thirsty, nutritionally lacking, bored, tired, looking for attention?? Any of those or many other reasons may exisit. What is this childs typical diet look like day to day??? I agree w/ many on here who think clear boundries need to be set, so this child knows when and what to eat. I do not permit 'grazing' but set times to eat, and seldom hear anyone complaining that they are hungry. My comments on discipline were to those posting about 3yr olds being unable to understand it. They are plenty old enough to understand when they are doing something they aren't supposed to. And YES PLEASE do not give in once you have said 'No'...or you may as well let the child have it in the first place. Once you've said no you've set the bar and they need to know you are mom/dad and they are to obey your rules. I am glad that you are a parent who disciplines their child. It is becomming more and more of a rare thing. I would like to hear from the original mother who posted the question so we can better help her. There are too many variables not explained, w/ more information, better advice can be given. Keep up the great work Parents!!! =D

Karen - posted on 09/08/2011

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At the age of 3 it's easy to find hiding places for things you don't want her to be able to eat at will. We used too and still do hide things from our now 8 year old daughter in places she can't get to or find. Usually in our bedroom closet on a high shelf and cover it over with some type of old clothing. The earlier suggestion of leaving healthy snacks around is an excellent solution. And the others are correct,...at the age of 3 they have no concept of what "stealing" is. All she knows is she is hungry and wants something to eat.

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I try and talk to my kids like they are regular people (because they are) and ask them calmly what they are doing and why. She might surprise you by actually telling you that she is (a) hungry, (b) bored, (c) tired, (d) all of the above! Treasure your kids and remember that as a parent your role is to guide your kids not control them.

Oh and in regard to snacks. I offer three sit down meals and three to four snack plates Across the day. I put a mix of chopped vege, fruit, cheese, and bread on snack plates usually. Sometimes I include a sweet biscuit, but usually I save packaged snacks for when I am on the run or time poor. We do home baking as well. I don't worry about whether my kids eat all or nothing off the snack plates, but I do try and encourage them to eat their meals. Some days they do, some days they don't!

Good luck!

Carol - posted on 09/08/2011

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I think the more you address the issue, the more she'll fight to get what she wants. If you can maintain control over what she eats without her realizing you're in control, you'll have more success in the long run. I've even heard that eating disorders can start very early, and if that's what's brewing, it's all about control - hers. So I would pick my battles and maintain control in the most subtle way possible. It's a fine line but you don't want her to think she's in control, just that you aren't. Does that make sense?

Margaret - posted on 09/07/2011

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don't i was punished as a child for eating snacks and to this day i have a battle with food just make sure she can only get at snacks you want her to have good kuck

Eve - posted on 09/07/2011

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The most easy way is not to have them in the house. That way she is not tempted. They do not need snacks. Keep fruit available cut in bite sizes in the fridge, so if she needs to eat something she can have that. Hope this helps.

Tamara - posted on 09/07/2011

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my 4 year old has learnt he is allowed little cucumbers celery and baby carrots (whole) and baby corn when ever he wants and anything else he has to ask. he does eat constantly but it as long it is vegetables I am not bothered how ever I do limit fruit to 3 peices a day as to much fruit is not good as well

Debi - posted on 09/07/2011

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Keep the snacks where she can't get to them - and make sure they are healthy snacks if she is stealing them - then you don't have to worry

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I would not consider it stealing actually. i deliberately put gabbys snack foods on a low shelf so she can get it herself when she wants it, she usually needs to bring stuff to me to open it(shes only 2) If the kid is hungry, feed her is how i see it. I give her a big breakfast, then we eat several small meals throughout the day, . Kids have small stomachs and need to be fed quite frequently.

Samantha - posted on 09/07/2011

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In my house, children have to ask for food. I had my kids very close together and very early on I set a strict rule that they had three meals a day and two snacks and at those times they could eat as much healthy food as they wanted. We had to have routine, because otherwise with 3 of them, I felt like I was constantly going to the cupboard and trying to think what to give them next. This rule has worked really well for us. My kids have learned to eat at the meal time and if they get down from the table, food time is over until the next time. Water is available freely all day every day. I think this will stand us in good stead for future years when they a more physically able to get food themselves and will still have the respect to ask me for it. Not because I need a power trip or anything, but just because I buy the food and plan out what its for and when and its good manners to ask. Even my husband checks with me if he can the leftovers for his lunch, or if I have plans for it for another meal.

If she's really sneaky and clever, then I agree, locking them up is best, because its best to teach boundaries and lock things up while you still can. There will come a point where you will want to be able to trust her to obey you and the lock won't stop her, so make these boundaries clear now while you can.

I don't know if you do this, but some people do, so I would like to mention, be careful what you eat in front of her. I find it best and fairest if we don't have anything in my house that I'm not prepared to share with my children. This means if you expect them to eat only healthy snacks, so should you. Anything we eat that we don't want our children to have is consumed when they are in bed or not around, or only if there is another alternative I am prepared to let them have. This way they don't feel like they might be missing out on something and feel the need to take things without permission.

If you find her with food she hasn't asked for, just take it off her. Say no and that she is not to take food without asking, and (if its something she's allowed to have) give it back when she does. If its not something she can have, then tell her what the alternative is and if she asks for it using her manners she can have it or nothing. If she tantrums, just put her in her room or walk away. Just don't ever say no and then give in.

Hope you manage to find a solution that works for you.

Miranda - posted on 09/07/2011

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My daughter is also three. I keep all not-so-nutritious snacks out of her reach. (goldfish, fruit snacks) she is independent and has juice boxes, milk boxes, and water readily available. I limit her to two juice boxes per day, and she brings me a juice to open when she wants one. We have a sticker chart so that we don't lose track. She understands it thoroughly. I always keep yogurt and cut fruit/vegetables available for her and she eats them often. She would prefer apples and strawberries over ice-cream any day because I have instilled healthy eating habits! Don't get me wrong, she loves a Popsicle but that is not a daily thing. If I were you, I'd either put the snacks up or make her a "snack box" daily where she can grab something out of it when she wants. This can be a large Tupperware container in your fridge with ziplocks of goldfish, fruit, finger vegetaes, etc. Goldfish are just as good cold! Teach her that it is HER special box and nobody else eats out of it! Perhaps if you or a sibling is home, there could be a snack box for that person with similar contents! Hope this helps!!

Alexandra - posted on 09/07/2011

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stealing is stealing. i dont have enough deatils to understand what is going on, but in any situation you should know what's behind it. if it is from your kitchen, is the child hungry? if it is from a store, what prompted to do that? if it is from a friend's house... and so on, you must understand your child before trying to correct it.

Mary - posted on 09/07/2011

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To begin with she is not stealing the snacks . If you do not want her to have them you need to put them where she cannot get them . No child should have 24 hr. access to snacks you need to teach her their is a time and place for everything .

Carol - posted on 09/07/2011

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I do not believe food and punishment should ever be used together. If your 3 year old is "stealing" snacks from your own kitchen then the easiest solution is to keep a bowl of ready to eat FRESH veggies available....they should always be unlimited and maybe a small fruit bowl. Skip the dipping and added calories. If your child is hungry just ensure healthy veggie are at arms reach.

Marcia - posted on 09/07/2011

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My son will be three this month. I let him go in the fridge to get juice and fruits. Sometimes he grabs a yogurt. If he wants another snack he asks for it by name like crackers. But I let him be independent. Maybe she is hungrier than you realize.

Jenni - posted on 09/07/2011

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Catherine, that's quite the assumption. That because we allow our children choices over healthy snacks we are not disciplining across the board. I am a very strict parent. I use logical consequences, just like you. I use timeouts, just like you. I am complimented on my children's behaviour... just like you.



Children shouldn't be punished for eating. Taking snacks when they're hungry is not 'stealing'.



Do you know why I don't have a problem with my children taking snacks?



Because I ensure they're getting enough nutrition throughout the day.



Because human beings are naturally wired to graze. We are not meant to eat 3 full meals a day. Especially young children who have very small stomachs.



Now if my child took something from a store. Then of course I'm going to teach them that it is not theirs and they are not allowed to take it. I am going to discipline them by teaching them how we have to pay money for items that we want from a store. Or whatever other means of discipline is required to teach them in a way a 3 year old can understand, the concept of stealing. I teach them that taking things from friend's houses is not permitted either because those things are not theirs.



But the food in the house is for all of us. It is the family's food. So no, I certainly wouldn't consider that stealing. I don't keep unhealthy things in the house. I give them a choice between two snacks so they have some control over what they put in their bodies. That way they don't have this 'need' to take things without asking.



Allowing a child to have choices over healthy snacks you provide. Is not manipulation. Especially, when all other meals are not up for debate.

Megan - posted on 09/07/2011

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I agree that you need to look at what snacks she is helping herself too (she doesn't know what stealing is) and if there is something she is not to have then it is your responsibility as a parent to make sure they are not accessible to her. You also have to think about the reason she wants ot eat so much. is it boredom? When you see her heading for a snack and you know she has only recently had something, distract her. Go and play outside with her or take her to the park. Keep her busy and she won't have time to go to the snacks all the time. Parenting should be about consequences, not punishment. When kids are little, it is also our responsibility to put unnecessary temptations for trouble in their way as the learn the rules of home and society.

Catherine - posted on 09/07/2011

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I'm old school and agree w/ the one poster who said about children knowing (manipulating) how to get what they want. I seriously doubt this mother is not feeding her child enough, that would be neglect and as a neglectful parent she wouldn't bother to post here. We have become a snacking on the run society, and yes a what ever makes your child happy is what's best society too. People we are parents first and foremost...setting limitations is ok. I don't see anything from the mother on what her child IS eating, so it's hard to say if it's a matter or nutrition needs, or attention. A three year old will understand discipline, if you don't think they will try telling them no and watch what happens....that tantrum is proof that they have FULL understanding of limits and expectations. I have lots of experience w/ children this age as I have a home childcare...and see parents constantly throwing juice(empty calories and TONS of sugar) and snacks at their kids just to keep 'em quiet all the time. When they are w/ me there are set meal and snack times, drinks upon request thru the day while SITTING down, not walking all over the place nursing a sippy cup all day. And guess what, they get it! They know what to expect at my house and what consequences are (according to their ages of course). I have had many parents compliment how I raise children, not tooting my horn, but just today I had one single mom tell me that in the year her son(age 2 1/2 now) has been with us she has seen wonderful strides in his speech (he barely said an understandable word at first) and behavior...and she has taken our 'time out' technique home and it WORKS!!!! And he's not yet 3. Please don't underestimate the intelligence of your children and please do not be afraid to be a parent and tell your child 'no' when it is necessary to do so. It will make life for both of you SO much better in the long run, I promise!!!! =D

Jane - posted on 09/07/2011

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@Angela - Did you try a bungi cord? That has worked at our house to keep cats, dogs and small children out of the fridge.

Angela - posted on 09/07/2011

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Just seen Janelle's comment. I do much the same with baking, but believe me, my 3-year-old will take flour! When we'd been rolling out biscuits there was some flour left on the rolling board. She said (having been made to wait 'til we'd finished with the bowl before licking it out), "Can I eat the flour?". I told her she could if she wanted but it wouldn't taste very nice. She started shovelling it into her mouth, saying (with a glint in her eye), "Mmmm, that tastes nice!". Anything to prove Mummy wrong!

Angela - posted on 09/07/2011

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We've got a similar problem with our 3-year-old, 'though I do ask my husband not to call it "stealing" - as you say, it is partly her food anyway. However, it is only partly hers, as she shares the house and food with 2 parents, and she needs to learn that the food is for us, too, not just her! She's not hungry, as there's sometimes still an unfinished (almost always these days) meal sat somewhere waiting for her. Her problem is just that she wants something else.

We can't move the food out of her reach, as what she's trying to get mostly is in the fridge. We tried a fridge lock, but it broke the first time she tried to open the fridge. OK, the food she wants, such as yoghurts, is healthy enough, but she would happily munch through all of them, leaving no yoghurts for us and her with an unbalanced diet, and financially we can't afford to supply her with unlimited amounts of whatever her current obsession is. I'm afraid that 3 years old is just that age where whatever you've lovingly prepared because she adored it yesterday is the last thing in the world that she wants to eat today!!! Please try to understand that when you're suggesting that the poor dear must just be so hungry!

Janelle - posted on 09/07/2011

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I don't buy fizzy drink, cakes, chips, biscuits (junk food) if you don't want your kids to eat it or throw tantrums don't have it in the house. It has done us good. We really shouldn't be eating all that crap either. If we want cake we (2 year old and I) make it as a treat. Kids won't steal flour! We only keep a jar of lollies very high in the cuboard for movie night or as a special treat. Fruit taste so much sweeter once you elimate processed foods. My son considers a treat to be a snack sized packet of rice crackers. This was how I was brought up and it is really nice to get back to basics, we enjoy our vegetable garden too.

Jeri - posted on 09/07/2011

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My son (now age 12) has a "need" to take things...if he sees it and wants it, he takes it....And, it all started with taking the snacks when he was younger. We did the snack shelf/drawer, we put the snacks out of reach/or locked up, we did the unlimited healthy snacks, we taught him the food chart and how to make healthy choices, we tried not to make food an issue, we kept talking to him about 'asking' rather than taking and 7 years later he's still sneaking snacks...usually the unhealthy kind now... Sometimes it's just the kid and who they are and nothing you do will change that... ya gotta love em:)!

Janelle - posted on 09/07/2011

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I put a child lock on our cuboard but I keep the fruit bowl handy and if he's hungry he helps himself, he also knows how to get vegetables out of the fridge and sometimes I get a pease (please) mum to peel or chop up something fresh or to get him some yogurt or a drink of milk. He also has a water bottle I keep filled up in a handy spot, he sucks on that most of the day. I only every say no if it is 1/2 - 1 hr before tea.

Michele - posted on 09/07/2011

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I have always had a problem with "kids stealing food" why is it considered stealing to eat your own food in your own home?

I agree that it should be limited out of concern she won't eat healthy meals. I wasn't allowed to snack in my foster home and I found ways to sneak it in and eat b/c I was hungry.



What I was meaning is I have a problem with kids being accused of stealing food in thier own homes.......yes they should ask but if you don't want them having food without your consent/knowledge then don't have it withhin reach...

As other moms have suggested, have fresh fruits and veggies for her to grab as a snack

Saleshni - posted on 09/07/2011

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I don’t think the child needs to be punished for taking snacks, she might be hungry. Most kids don’t over feed them selves. They eat when their hungry. So please no punishments. Kids only do what they know to take care of them selves, they don’t know any better. She is only 3 years old. Maybe you should take time to feed her a good healthy meal. And provide snacks in-betweens meals. But punishments are never the answer. Thank you

JuLeah - posted on 09/07/2011

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Patricia??? You had a 3 yr old threatened with juvenile court???

She is 3! Can't understand what 'steal' is really - far too abstract

Patricia - posted on 09/07/2011

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Well that depends on whether the snacks she steals are from home or from the store or from other children!
If they are from home, or from other people; then she should be spoken to lovingly about her habbit, and told that when she steals someone elses snack they have to do without, and that's not nice or right. Then follow up with taking away her snacks for an amount of time to be determined by you as her parent(s). If she is stealing from the store and hiding or eating them before checkout. I would(and have) marched her up to the store detective or manager and explain the incident in aggrivated, dissappointment and detail to the person in charge, and make the child explain themselves. Taking person in charge asideand (ask them to tell the child what should happen to them at the juevenile court). and then then tell the child that because since it's her first time being caught they be let go, but next time..... Then talk to them at home. Each time losing snack time at home. This should solve the problem. I've done this, makes a big impression. Good Luck Pat

Tammy - posted on 09/07/2011

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Missing a meal is in fact , not good for you. it affects your blood sugars, lessens your energy. Skipping meals can also cause your body's metabolic rate to slow down thus causing your body to store fats which in turn leads to weight gain.

Tammy - posted on 09/07/2011

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my son was and still is non stop. I let him graze on healty snacks. he never had a weight issue. My mom did the same thing with me as I am ADHD and just couldn't sit still. It never caused a weight issue in me either. It all depends on what you let them graze on. You would have to eat a massive amount of fruits and vegetables to gain weight from it. Food high in processed sugurs is another story. However every child is different and so are thier metabolic rates, activity levels, and habits. You go with what works for them. :0)

Tammy - posted on 09/07/2011

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Babies cry because it is a thier method of communication. An infant is not capable of manipulation. manipulation takes planning. Babies have different pitches to thier cries that we as parents learn to distinguish. there's a certain cry for hunger, one for pain, one for illness, one for being tired, one for needing to be changed. It is thier method of communication. Thier survival instinct. not manipulation. In terms of stealing, not a three year old. I just let my son graze on healthy snacks and he got just what he needed to grow and be healthy and strong. Now he is 13, eats what would fill two people, is already 5'7" in height and is very active. He loves to run :0) In terms of discipline, one minute per age works nicely. lectures do not work on young children. Structure and clarity is what they need. if you want your child to go by a schedule for snacks, make a chart using images. let her choose what snack she would like. Pick a time mid morning and mid afternoon and one about an hour before bed. its really quite simple. :0)

Krista - posted on 09/07/2011

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I do wish that the OP would come back to this thread and elaborate on what exactly the child is doing. Is she stealing other kids' snacks? Is she taking food out of the fridge? What is being given to her throughout the day? We really need a LOT more information before we can give anything resembling a helpful response.

Michelle - posted on 09/07/2011

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Jenni, I totally agree. The odd thing about forums like these is that when we go to post something, we aren't conveying our entire thought process, our parenting principles, our beliefs, etc. We are just commenting on the one specific question/string of comments and that takes us down one of the many roads that there are in parenting yet we aren't explaining ourselves. Does that make sense? I suppose when I read a lot of these, I automatically relate to one of my kids (we have 5) and I consider that particular child's temperament and personality and total makeup and I responded based on MY kid. It's amazing how different ALL 5 of my kids are in comparison to each other, let alone one family to another. I have some strong willed kids...holy cow...like you've never seen. I have a kid who is a carbon sneaky copy of his daddy when his daddy was little. I have a 4 year old who was talking in complete sentences by 2, so she did actually manipulate (emotionally) for things and then on the other hand I have a 10 year old who is a rule follower. No ifs ands or buts about it. There is such a gamut of personalities and I was brought up that you discipline all kids the same. I DO NOT agree with that. I totally believe in teaching our kids how to make the right choices. Some of them I have to be firm with and may have to discipline over "stealing" food because I know their intention was to deceive whereas another kid I know is completely clueless and I have to just guide them on to a better choice. It is a fabulous, daunting, precious, difficult (etc) thing, parenting. These forums can be so entirely helpful, but the power of the written word can be a precarious thing and stir up emotions that were never meant to be. Interestingly enough, I believe it all comes out of a true deep love for our kids. Bottom line. But no 2 kids are alike. We are all "design originals" so-to-speak and there is no blanket way to deal with kids. I do believe you have to have a basic principle or model of parenting/discipline and then you create a different recipe of that model for each kid you have. Those of you that have compliant children will have such a different perspective of parenting that those of us with strong willed kiddos. We are to be students of our kids, know what each kid needs and teach them to know what they need and to be able to make their own choices based on them...not based on a steadfast rule. We are the "control" in their lives for a few years as we teach them right from wrong; healthy from unhealthy; good from better or even best. Then we start to loosen those reigns a little at a time because we are training them to be self-sufficient...that doesn't happen over night. In my opinion we should still have pretty firm control over our preschoolers, and assuming that we have taught them to make good choices, we can also expect that some of them won't always do so and that's why we are there. You know?!? Anyways, thanks for the healthy banter. I love how no matter what is said, you can see the passion all of us have for our families!!!

Nancee - posted on 09/07/2011

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Maybe the child is hungry. If the child was well fed they would not be looking for snack and resort to 'stealing' them behind ur back. Try feeding you kid!

Firebird - posted on 09/07/2011

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You could try better supervision. Make sure she's eating enough at meals and snacktimes. If it's cookies or something sweet she's stealing, she might not be taking it because she's hungry. keep her busy, it's always possible she's just eating because she's bored. You don't punish small children, you teach them boundaries.

Michelle - posted on 09/07/2011

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M-b-W-u: they are natural sugars. It's still better than juice plus there is the calcuim for growing bones. My kids are not overweight, they are healthy and energetic. I live in Australia where we have a great outdoor lifestyle.

Jenni - posted on 09/07/2011

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M-b W-u: Gardens for kids are awesome! My kids have tried so many new veggies that they use to refuse, just because it was grown in our garden. They love picking their own veggies and eating them. My son use to hate tomatoes. But this summer he loves them because he got to grow them in the garden and pick them himself.

Muganda - posted on 09/07/2011

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12 gr of sugar in one cup of reduced fat milk is not much? no wonder our society as a whole is overweight.... I am all for prepping them for preschool, but at 3 and being hungry- give it healthy snacks. The reason I want mine to ask if its a "unhealthy" snack is to make them think- too many people- kids and adults alike - eat because they are bored or stressed- to start them thinking and having to go through the trouble of "asking" stops alot of that. It also lets you monitor from a distance what they're eating , what they're hungry for. The same goes for dessert- the more veggies you eat in every color, the more dessert you get- they learn quickly to balance. They dont "know" - by nature human beings go for sweets - kids have to be taught and guided- even with food choices. If mine are not thirsty for water, then there is nothing- no dessert either. They have to be taught to take care of themselves and food choices is one of it. To leave it up to "what they want"....then they have a hard time going out of their comfort zone and try new things. And no- I dont trust that 'the other kids" will teach them- its up to me- thats why I am a parent. In general it was my kids that taught their friends new things because I just didnt roll with the trend. I dont care much what they like, I am here to adjust them to the real world and the real world doesnt care much what they like either. We make our own juice- we have a orchard- and we grow our own veggies- my kids have each their own section and love to eat what they grow. They each also learn to cook under supervision at age 6- and are quite good at it. If a kid is not hungry, it doesnt hurt them to go without one meal- it makes me take notice though. If a kid is constantly eating or "stealing" food, it makes me curious also. I have seen kids that eat with emotional turmoil- I take note of it and address the issue. Food in itself should be nourishing- so no junk. But if they're hungry, there should be good food available at this age

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