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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 5313
Experience:  Dr.Mark is a psychologist in private practice who works with parents and children in resolving family issues.
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I found a bag full of my 12 year old girls lunches stashed

Customer Question

hello, I found a bag full of my 12 year old girls lunches stashed in her room. food going back weeks. when I spoke to her she said she doesn't like eating in front of people. she eats breakfast and after school fine, no trips to toilet afterwards. i stopped making her take lunch but now am unsure if ive done the right thing.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 months ago.

Hi. I'll be glad to help with this question.

To give you the best answer, I think I should ask you a few questions first that will help define the problem and the situation.

You say that she eats breakfast and dinner after school but let's make sure that there isn't an eating issue: is she thin? Is she always worried about her weight? Etc.

Let's also consider her social behavior: does she have many friends? How about in the school, is she popular? What does she do instead of eating?

I'll await your reply,

Dr. Mark

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
She is a popular girl with friends and says she so busy talking thru lunchtime. I see no other signs of an eating disorder but it still doesn't feel right giving her no lunch which is what I started doing.
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 months ago.

Thank you for the reply; it's very helpful. So, let's get started.

Based on what you've shared with me, you're not concerned about an eating disorder or body image issue. She has a successful social life. The problem you identify is preoccupation: she's much more excited to talk with friends at lunch time than to eat.

It is difficult to say for sure that this is a benign problem that you can just let go. I agree that, from what you've shared, it doesn't cause her any problems currently to skip lunch each day. However, long term not eating is not a good stress coping mechanism. Why do I call it a coping mechanism?

Excitement is one form of life stress. How we deal with excitement when we are kids often translates to how we cope with other stresses when we are older. And to ignore eating when life gets stressful is indeed one way we see problems arising today. I don't mean to make it into a big issue that you should turn into a struggle between you two. Rather, I'd like to suggest a way to encourage her to find some other way to deal with her excitement.

And I'd like you to bring it up to her as, indeed, excitement even though we know that being busy talking when other tasks are at hand is a form of social stress. I'd suggest starting a reward system for getting her "task" done. Explain to her that lunch is the task at hand and you know she's excited, but she has a task she needs to accomplish and you want to recognize her for accomplishing it when she does.

This, of course, is predicated on your being confident that she will be honest when she brings the empty lunch bag home that she ate the lunch. Reinforce this by asking her how lunch was, what her favorite part was every so often.

This is a way to be proactive without making a big issue out of it. Because, given her being a healthy weight and being happy socially, it is not a huge issue.

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Thanks for that advice. Can I also ask, checking her internet activity I saw she was on snapchat which she is prohibited from and I noticed her talking to a 15 year old boy. She was saying she cuts herself and has scars and she thinks her father and I will break up due to my suspicions of infidelity. She things are false. I don't know how to talk to her about it or what to do. I have never heard her swear yet she was in her messages and the only one. Is she doing this for attention. Is it a normal part of kids behaviour today
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 months ago.

Thanks for the added information. It sounds as though she may be more troubled than we discussed. Cutting has become more "popular" because of teen chat groups that promote it. So it's not as clearly a sign of emotional issues as it used to be even 7-10 years ago. But it is still a sign of issues that need to be addressed most often so you need to take it seriously before dismissing it as something she heard about and is just trying.

That said, I'd recommend that you consider a few sessions of family counseling to discuss this and her not respecting your rule prohibiting snapchat. That is worth the effort of counseling while she's still young for sure. Because you want to know why your rules are not important to her and what she's going through.

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 months ago.

Hi. I'm checking in to see if the reply was helpful or if you need more follow up. I would be very interested in hearing back from you on whether you thought my response was helpful or if we need to continue with further discussion. My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen,then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5(Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done)button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer.

Thanks,

Dr. Mark

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 months ago.

Hi, this is Dr. Mark. I would be very grateful if you could give a positive rating to my answer. Thanks so much.

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