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Dr. Rossi
Dr. Rossi, Licensed Psychotherapist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 4627
Experience:  Certified Hypnotherapist, Parenting Book Author, 13+ years of experience.
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Hi, We are having a real problem with my 11 nearly 12 year

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We are having a real problem with my 11 nearly 12 year old son, he is constantly stealing from us.
At the moment he is mainly stealing sweets or snacks but he has also taken his bus money and paid half onto his bus card and spent the rest on sweets.
It is not a hunger thing because it can happen after meals it just seems to be greed, one of his latest thefts involved taking half of the presents he bought for Mothers day as well as half of the ones his sister had bought as well.
He is taking things most days and we have had to put a lock on the cupboard where we keep snacks. It does not matter how many times he is caught or punished (usually by paying for replacement products) he keeps stealing.
His excuse when caught is it usually our fault for not letting him have the sweets in the first place.
Please help



Craving sweets/carbohydrates to this extent may be an indicator of other things going on. If he is capable of stealing, he would be stealing other things. Before you manage his behavior, you'd want to figure out what may be causing it.


You may want to have his pediatrician run some blood test to make sure that he is not lacking in certain minerals/vitamins. They can also check his thyroid function and check him for diabetes. Consulting with a nutritionist may be the next step.


Sweets provide a short burst of energy to the body and the brain. Chocolate can increase the serotonin level in the brain.


Different things that can cause sweets/sugar craving in children:


Familial (article)





Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Hi Dr Rossi,


Thanks you for this information. i am pretty sure my son does not have a health problem causing him to take the sweets but I did find the other details you added interesting.


He does have trouble maintaining friendships and is constantly falling out with one or more of his friends and he does seem to have a low self esteem.


One thing he does is blame every one else for anything that happens as a result of his actions.


There is a history of an alcohol problem in the family which I found most interesting.


Are there any strategies we can try to help wean him off the sweets? I have asked him if there any more healthy snacks we could keep in to have as an alternative but only if he asks for them.







You may look into getting snacks that are low on sugar and fat content. Sometimes in a health food store, you may find sweets intended for people with diabetes.


You may want to get some dark chocolate (if he likes the way it tastes) and let him know that those are special treats to give to him when he shows self control and when he asks for snacks versus steal them. Or, you can stock up on the snacks that he likes and let him know that these will be dispensed from you for good/honest behavior.


He is old enough to connect good behavior with positive outcomes and negative with negative ones. You do not want to punish him but rather consequent him. The difference is that in the former you remove something pleasurable without the chance of him ever earning it back. In the latter, you let him know when this can be earned back (what behavior is expected and in what time frame.) You don't want to make the time frame too long because he'd lose his motivation.


Show him some videos on youtube that deal with eating too much sweets and the obesity factor epidemic in youngster his age.


You can try to get some watermelon and ice cream by Bryers or the vanilla yogurt by Haagen -dazs and fat free whip cream and make these attractable to him. They are tasty so he may like that.


Try to not halt him of eating the snacks he likes all together bur rather gradually substitute with healthier options.

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