Ask the Experts: How can I stop my child from hiding food in his room?

Hi Dr. Ed and Dorothy!

My foster son is 8, and ever since he arrived, he has been hiding food in his bedroom, and I can’t get him to stop. I have reassured him that we will always have food available for him in the kitchen, but he won’t stop. Do you have any advice for me?

Lisa S., Ironton, OH

Hello Lisa!

It depends upon how long your foster son has been with you. If it has only been a couple of months, I'd let things ride a while longer. And yes, keep gently reminding him that there will always be plenty to eat. As time passes you might ask him to place the food in a zip lock plastic bag or some other insect-proof container. Also, let him know that food can spoil so you have to keep an eye on it with him. Once he is clearly established in the home, you might begin to set some rules: No scraps left hidden or lying around, the food cannot be taken out of the house and it shouldn't be used as a substitute for eating with the family at their regular meals. As a child adjusts to a home with positive & predictable routines the storage of food should lessen. Since this is not a necessarily destructive behavior and may have made some sense in another environment, I would recommend going slow on insisting that it stop. Time is on the side of a fair and sharing home and these type of habits usually start to diminish.

-Dr. Ed and Dorothy

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