Favorite Quotes

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  • "I'm so busy.... I don't know if I found a rope... or lost my donkey! - Unknown"
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Snack Wars - Part I

For some reason, it is very very common that children who have been abused and neglected will horde/sneak/steal food. Frank and Libby have both struggled with this issue over the years. It goes away for a while, and then will come back suddenly with a vengence.

We've tried creative ways to resolve this over the years. And please note that healthy food (ie apples, oranges, bananas, cheese) is ALWAYS available in my house, and a request for a healthy snack is seldom turned down.

This past school year, I had three kids in elementary school. I decided that it was too expensive to buy them all a hot lunch every day, so we'd begin packing a lunch. I bought little bags of chips and Pringles. I made it clear to everyone that these were expensive and were for school lunches ONLY.

A couple of months went by and I cleaned Frank's room out. Behind his bed, I found a MOUND of empty wrappers from candy, snacks and chips. He was sneaking them out of the cupboard and taking them downstairs to eat them. We'd had this problem in the past, so it wasn't a big surprise.

So I showed Frank that I'd found his "Stash". And I told him there'd be consequences the next time I found empty wrappers down in his room. A few days went by, and I found a second set of wrappers in his room. I showed them to Frank, and he tried to tell me they were from a long time ago, and I just hadn't found them when I found the other wrappers. I know this wasn't true, because there was a half eaten powdered donut in the pile, and I'd just bought them the night before. I was also finding wrappers in Libby's room, but in a much smaller quantity.

So I thought about it all that next day at work. Grounding him from snacks hadn't worked, time outs hadn't worked, spanking him hadn't worked...so it was time to try something new. Most of what he'd been sneaking were the bags of potato chips and Pringles. So I went to Dillons that day on my way home from work. I bought $75 worth of chips and junk food....twinkies, ding dongs, candy bars, chips...the best. I also bought a small plastic container and filled it full of the snacks. I placed the container in the cabinet. I lined all four little kids up and told them that they could have as much stuff from the snack basket as they wanted (imagine cheering children)....there was only one condition.....they must STEAL the snacks from the basket without me catching them doing it (now imagine four kids with their eyes bugged out of their head). My intention was to take the thrill out of stealing the snacks. When they stole something out of the basket, they had to bring the empty wrapper to me the next morning.

The little girls really weren't interested one way or the other. Frank was absolutely FURIOUS. He said he would NEVER steal a snack out of that basket, and I couldn't make him. I calmly replied that was fine. Libby just couldn't believe that she could steal something out of it and wouldn't get in trouble. She asked me several times "And I won't get in trouble, right?"

Libby "stole" something out of the basket two nights in a row, and brought me the wrappers. That took all of the fun out of it for her, and she didn't bother it for a long, long time afterwards.

Since Frank was the one who was taking the chips in great quanities, I had additional things planned for him. Later that night I fixed a good meal of lasgna...which is one of Frank's favorites. I fixed a big plate and set it in front of each girl. When it was Frank's turn, I fixed a plate heaped up with potato chips instead. I told Frank that since he had such an uncontrollable desire for potato chips, that as a good Mom, I was going to ensure that he got all the chips he needed. Frank would eat chips for breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner until he got his fill. Again, Frank was FURIOUS. He pushed the plate away and would not eat a single chip. When he got up for breakfast the next morning, the little girls all had a bowl of cereal....and Frank had a bowl of chips. He absolutely could not believe his eyes when I set the bowl of chips in front of him. Again he wouldn't eat them and started crying. He wailed "Moooommmmmmm......could I PLEASE just have some healthy fooooooddddd????"

So we talked about it a while, and he decided maybe he COULD exert some self control were the chips were concerned and not steal them out of the cabinet any more. And I gave him a nice healthy bowl of cereal to eat.

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