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So we discovered my daughter has been hiding all the bits of her lunch that she hasn’t wanted to eat in the bottom of a spare bag that she hid behind the door in her room. There were sandwich remains at least 3 bananas and an apple. She even took it a step further and hid roast sweet potato in a pocket in there. This is not the first time she’s tried hiding food. The thing I don’t get is that she actually likes apples and bananas and sandwiches. I go out of my way to find things that she likes, etc. If she brings her food home in her lunch box the usual rule is to make her eat it before dinner (which is what I do with my son). Hubby wanted to cancel her going to a sleepover tonight, however we cancelled last weekend due to her bad behaviour (stealing chocolates if I’d been given as a birthday present from my boss) and I’d already confirmed last night with the other mum so don’t want to stuff them around again. I’ve tried taking away special toys and placing bans. Anyone else have punishment ideas and advice?


Posted by sars_angelchik, 6th September 2021


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  • I do like the suggestion below of a child helping with preparing food for the lunch box. We do the same thing.


  • I would be letting her make her own lunch for school now she is 9. That should stop her from hiding food in her room rather than eating it. If she is putting food into her hideyhole during her main meal, I would be seeking help as she may be starting an eating disorder that should be nipped in the bud if it is at all possible,


  • I would have done the same but I was lucky enough to have a friend who would eat all the stuff I didn’t want to!
    I guess just ask for suggestions as to what she actually wants in her lunch box to avoid waste on your end and disappointment/ anxiety on her end.


  • I agree with the majority of other posters – this is not something to be punished for, but something to be looked at further, Give her the choice, within boundaries of what she would like to include in her lunchbox. If they are all healthy choices then she doesn’t have to eat them all. Is there an underlying issue? It sounds like you may need to let go of the control and try a more negotiable path with her. My teenagers both won’t eat lunch at school. Apparently it is very common, for various reasons. The hardline very often doesn’t work. Patience, communication and respect – they work.


  • My oldest was a lot like this, she’s 10 now but the last 3 years I made the rule that if you don’t want something – just send it back in the lunchbox. If it comes back I ask why they didn’t eat it, if it’s something they didn’t like or a food they just don’t feel like right now. Even as adults there are foods we don’t feel like. Sometimes they love a food for months but won’t eat it for a few weeks – then they’ll ask for it again or you try it again and they do. No judgement. I found it worked wonders and created a better idea of what they like at the moment because they werent chucking food at school or hiding it. We have 4 at school now and all have the same rule.


  • How about asking here what she would like to take before packing her lunch/snack box?


  • As others have said, I’d be looking at EHY she feels the need to hide the food and not head straight to punishment. There’s a reason she doesn’t want you to know she hasn’t finished her food. But why


  • I did the same things as a child and I didn’t want my children to do it too. I just am open with them and let them know, I’m not at all upset if they bring their food home from school uneaten. If it’s fruit, it can be kept for another day. If it’s a sandwich they can eat it when they get home since they are usually hungry. If it’s just a bite of a sandwich I’ll just bin it. I don’t want them to have an issue with food like I did. I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it at all, be very chill so she can be open too.


  • Children need to have a positive and healthy relationship with food. Children should be praised and rewarded for good food choices. It is so important to establish a positive attitude towards food and eating. Punishment is a negative and does not reinforce positives about food and choices.


  • Unfortunately as parents as a rule we look at the negative behaviour and look to punish as habit. If patterns emerge and things keep happening, sometimes we can sadly overlook that there maybe underlying reasons why these behaviours are occurring. Could your daughter be hiding food because of insecurities around her weight? Is she being teased at school and she’s seeking control elsewhere? Is there emotional issues mounting and these are her ways of getting attention on herself, be it negative? Sometimes even just taking a chocolate could seem like “stealing” but be an impulse choice with no thought behind it. Kids don’t always think of the consequences, don’t we all know that! I guess as parents we don’t have instruction booklets we just have to use these times as guides and calls for attention or cries for help. Sometimes punishment won’t help. Working out the core issues hopefully will. At the very least, even try working on a compromise of a little less food in her lunchbox to ease a little pressure while working on the problem. My children have additional needs. I had to learn to choose my battles but I also had to learn to see each new day as just that, a new day. Hope you all work it out, together. Good luck.


  • There might actually be something else going on here. Perhaps try and understand why she’s doing this. It may unlock something else.


  • You need to talk to her about why she is hiding the food. I am not sure if punishment is required…..other than for lying. There is another issue.


  • I don’t think you should be forcing them to finish what they don’t eat from lunch before dinner. I was going to suggest talking to her to find out why she is hiding it but that would be why. Kids will eat what their bodies tell them to eat and what they like. Maybe you should ask your kids what they want for lunch and pack that (having requirements ofcourse, fruit, sandwich, treat etc.). Punishing kids doesn’t change behaviours it just makes them resent you and not trust or be too scared to tell you things.

    You need to talk to your kids and work out why they do things and build trust. Involve them in decisions and empower them this will save issues like the one you have.


  • This is not something to punish. No wonder your daughter is hiding food if you force her to eat things she doesn’t want to. You are setting her up to have a problematic relationship with food and a potential eating disorder. I encourage you to google “division of responsibility” and read what nutritionists advise.
    As adults there are plenty of foods that we enjoy that we might not feel like eating on any given day for whatever reason. Serve your child nutritious foods for all their meals with the occasional sometimes food thrown in there as a treat, and let her eat according to what her mind and body want that day.


  • We’ve had a similar problem with our son. The trick seemed to be to identify an activity in the near future he was looking forward to (like the sleepover) and inform him that if he screwed up before I confirmed with the other parent, it would be off. I think you need to warn kids of the consequences in advance.


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