I'm new and needing some fresh ideas

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by mcrolling, May 11, 2008.

  1. mcrolling

    mcrolling New Member

    Hi my name is Michelle. I am a stay at home mom to 4 kids. My boys are 2 and 12 and my girls are 5 and 10. My husband is a fireman and we have been married 13 years.

    My issues are with my oldest (E -- DS1). At 7 years old (2nd grade and right before DD2 was born) he was diagnosed with mild ADHD and we started a low dose of medication. I was seriously afraid he might hurt her because of all of his pent up anger. Right before he turned 8, he tested into the gifted program at school. He would start that program in 3rd grade. We tried various medications during this time period. Some worked and some didn't. For the most part he REFUSED to take the medications with the exception of Adderall, but that one didn't work so well with him. By the time he was entering 5th grade we found something that motivated him -- FOOTBALL. He was medication free for all of 5th and 6th grade. We had our struggles, but we survived and he came out with decent grades at the end of both years.

    This brings us to where we are now. 7th grade. He was great during football season. Kept most of his grades up. Most impressively his Honors Algebra I class. He was doing his work, or so I thought. Found a bunch of missing assignments at the end of the 1st quarter. I periodically going up and cleaning out his locker at this point. As the 2nd quater started, I was being bombarded with calls from his Algebra teacher. She couldn't make him work, but yet he was passing her class. She was frustrated and wanted a conference with me and the rest of his core teachers. I coudn't meet with them because it was at the same time that I needed to pick up DD2 from school. I called his doctor and we discussed our options and we put him on the patch. Something he didn't have to swallow.

    Most of the time his medications help to mellow him. He is more easy going and less irritable at family gatherings. But the medications don't control everything. I really think he has ODD as well, but I am clueless as to how we would treat it, especially if he won't take medications.

    My current and most pressing issue right now relates to food. We have always had problems with him sneaking food and it is getting worse. Yes I realize he is a growing boy, but he eats ****. When he was little it was handfuls of sugar or butter. When he was a bit older it was powdered pudding or jello mixes (which he may still do now). Now it is just about anything. I can't buy snacks for the baby, because DS1 eats it all. Meat, cheese, chips, cookies, candies, cool whip, crackers, fruit, hot chocolate mix, etc. He eats it ALL and leaves the empty packages where they were. For his afternoon snack one day this past week, he ate -- a bowl of pretzels, 2 large oranges, and string cheese. Another night I was making dinner and I saw him with a package of crackers that were snacks for the little one. I told him no he couldn't have them plus I was cooking dinner. He handed them back and then walked out of the room. A few minutes later, I heard a rustle of plastic and him crunching on something. When I asked him what it was he admitted to eating a different pak of crackers. He shoved the whole pack in his mouth so he wouldn't get caught.

    I will admit that we don't need junk food in the house, but I don't think it is fair to the little ones that I can't buy graham crackers or goldfish because my oldest will eat it all.

    Is this an impulsive issue? How can I help him to learn to control this? I am so at a loss. I don't know that loking everything up will help him learn to contol his impulses, but I don't know what else to do. Summer is coming up and I cannot AFFORD for him to eat non-stop everyday for 3 months. That and he is already 170 pounds. He would easily be almost to 200 if he sat and ate all summer.

    HELP!!! I am open to all ideas and suggestions.
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Yes. And no. How tall is he? What does the dr say?
    If he's ADHD it makes perfect sense that he's not going to control himself when you tell him NO when he's got his hand halfway to his mouth. My son does the same thing. He's allergic to wheat and milk. It sounds like your son might also be hypoglycemic--I used to LOVE butter and sugar on white bread and eat half a loaf when I was only about 7. It's a good thing he likes football because he can work it all off. But if he gets low blood sugar after all that crummy snacking, he's going to get very, very cranky. He's got to eat more protein. Will he eat hamburgers? Chicken?
    Boys will eat you out of house and home under normal circumstances. It sounds like your son is over the top. He's still on stimulants, right? Usually you lose weight on those.
    I need a little more info.
    Oh, nice to meet you! And Happy Mother's Day. :)
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Welcome. I'm glad you found us.

    What time of day is the eating occurring? Is it happening in the late afternoon when his medications wear off? Stimulants tend to suppress appetitite so when they wear off, the child is truly hungry and eats more to make up for not eating much during the day.

    In any event, I think you need to take your son to his pediatrician to rule out any medical conditions that might be making him eat uncontrollably. Barring any medical issues, you might want to have him evaluated by a neuropsychologist to make sure the ADHD diagnosis is correct. Children with mood disorders (often mistakenly diagnosed with ADHD in early childhood) tend to crave carbs and sweets so this diagnosis needs to be considered.

    I have known parents to either only buy snack foods acceptable for all the kids or lock up all food so the uncontrollable eater must ask for snacks. You may need to consider one of these options should the non-stop eating continue.
  4. mcrolling

    mcrolling New Member

    Thans for the welcome.

    E is 5' 4" and 170 pounds at 12 years old. He's a big kid, but not obese, Know what I mean??

    His eating happens all day long. Medicated or non-medicated it doesn't matter. He will eat 2 or 3 different breakfasts on the weekend. For example, he will eat 2 bowls of cereal before I get up and then a piece of fruit, I will then make breakfast for the rest of the family and he will eat that as well and then ask for a snack an hour later. I know he is a growing boy, but this is crazy.

    He went through a stage a year or so ago where he would eat packets of sugar. The whole packet, paper and all. Just shoved it all in his mouth and chewed.

    I really thought he was diabetic for awhile. There were so many symptoms. He's been tested twice and nothing.

    He is really a good kid at heart and will do some really great and sweet things for others. I hate making an issue of food, but I can't tell you how many times I have bought something for a recipe only to have him eat it before I got a chance to make it. I don't like yelling at him for eating. That just seems so wrong and isn't solving the problem anyway. There are times when we are shopping and I go to buy something and he will ask me not to because he knows he will eat it all. I respect that totally and I won't tempt him like that.

    It was mentioned buying snacks appropriate for all. I do try to do that, but he will get to them first and there will be very little to none left for the others.

    He is not an overly picky eater either. For the most part he will eat whatever I fix for dinner. And he is usually very particular about making sure he eats all his meat since he knows that is the most expensive part of the meal.
  5. wethreepeeps

    wethreepeeps New Member

    My son is 9 and does the same thing. He sneaks out of bed in the middle of the night to eat as well. I bought a locking cabinet to keep the snacks and boxes of food in, and duct tape closed the lids of things in the refrigerator, that tends to deter him. The other night I made chocolate banana bread, and made the mistake of leaving out the peanut butter and cocoa powder. Woke up the next morning and he'd mixed the cocoa powder in the peanut butter jar and eaten over half of it.
  6. mcrolling

    mcrolling New Member

    I mentioned to husband about putting a lock on our pantry. It would at least help to deter him. husband was telling me we weren't going to put a hasp on the new door we just put in last year. I am looking for an alarm for the refrigerator/freezer as well. I probably should have done something like this years ago, but every one kept telling me he is a growing boy. As summer is coming on, I am just dreading it. I just want it to be a nice peaceful summer without this tension hanging over us.

    I read in a Family Fun magazine last summer about a mom who set up a snack bar for her kids. It had set times to operate and they used play money. Like myself, this mom had an older child and then 2 or more younger ones. The oldest child was responsible for operating the snack bar. Together mom and child shopped for snacks and priced them. The pricing system was set up to where a candy bar was expensive and raisins were cheap to encourage the kids to buy healthier treats. They got a set amount of "money" each week to buy their food and drinks at snack time. Water and carrot sticks were always free (but there was a charge for Ranch dressing).
    Do you think setting something like this up and letting him be in control would help? It would be a lesson in economics for all the kids as well as smart snack choices. What do you think?
  7. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I still think you should take him to the pediatrician to make sure there's nothing medically wrong before going to a behavioral solution. But that's JMHO.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I know you say he's not obese, but with those measurements, his BMI says he's obese, according to my charts.

    When I studied Physiology, we were told to consider the average adult human male as 70 Kg. Your son, at 170 lb, is over 80 Kg (166 lb). I am well into the obese range and the same height as your son, and weigh 88 Kg. He is 12. He shouldn't already weigh more than an adult male.

    You haven't mentioned medications - he's not taking risperdal, is he? That can cause eating like this, and weight gain. difficult child 1 doubled his weight in six months when he took risperdal, he went from a six pack to a beer keg. Taking him off the risperdal meant he lost a lot of the weight. he's back to his weedy self, but wiry with it.

    Snacks - I agree with the others, lock them up. If everyone has to do without, then so be it. But it sounds like you need to lock the entire food supply away. We did go through a bit of a phase like this - difficult child 3 would raid the fridge and often leave it open, so we bought a wide velcro strap to lock the fridge shut. Trouble was, the kid worked out how to force it open.

    Kids, especially boys, get ravenous when puberty hits. But they shouldn't put on weight like this, there is something else wrong. Emotionally I'm wondering if he's eating to make sure he doesn't miss out on "his share". easy child did this, and I couldn't stop her. If she went to a friend's house for dinner and came home to find we'd had something different, she would get very upset if we didn't save her some. She might be away at camp for a week, but if I made a chocolate cake early in the week, I still had to save her a piece even if it was going stale. The fact that she'd had loads of chocolate cake available at camp and didn't bring any home for us (not that we wanted it - it's just the reverse point of view) didn't seem to be considered. She was scared she had missed out and as a result, ate far more than she should in order to keep feeling loved.
    With the result that now, she has a major weight problem.

    You need to get on top of this fast or he will grow into a fat adult with serious health problems. By sneaking food, he's already into very bad habits.

    Something I did which might help - I set up healthy snacks in the fridge, so when the kids got home from school they had some choice in what to have. We don't have biscuits in the house. Cheese - we buy blocks of cheese and slice it ourselves. Grated cheese is kept in the freezer. I would cook sausages and leave them on a plate. Carrot sticks, celery sticks (great with Vegemite smeared very thinly) and fruit, all freely available.

    I think you need to get his overall health monitored - triglycerides, HDLs, LDLs, LFTs, fasting BSL plus fasting insulin. Blood pressure. Stress test and heart function. I have a horrible suspicion that all will not be well. But it should be completely reversible, if you get it soon enough.

    If you say he's not obese, it could be that he doesn't look it because he's put the fat on all over. This means he will be barrel-shaped, with chubby arms and legs. That means fat is going on round his middle, which is where it can pile on round the liver and other internal organs. This is the unhealthiest fat area of all.

    You can't change this by putting him on a diet. I think you know this already. First you need to work out why he's not just eating all the time, but eating so rapaciously and inconsiderately. He doesn't sound like an inconsiderate kid at heart, not when he worries about how much the food costs. He's probably also feeling really guilty, and this is making him eat even more to try to medicate the guilt.

    You could deal with this by just locking away the food, but this is you being in control. Until he learns why he's doing this and learns to overcome it, he will continue to have this problem. Locking up the food can help, but only while you keep doing it.

    I'd be getting him to a specialist pediatric gastroenterologist (bariatric specialist?). In the meantime, treat your baby with fruit. With summer coming up, frozen fruit is just as nice, but healthier (and cheaper) than frozen confections. Peel a very ripe banana, cut it in half and stick a popsicle stick in the cut end. Freeze it on a flat tray then when frozen, put it in an airtight container in the freezer. Oranges - cut them into wedges (skin on) and freeze. Just about any fruit can be frozen. And frozen fruit is good for teething gums. You can puree frozen fruit for something resembling a thick shake. No need to add sugar.

    I can also relate to the empty packets left everywhere - we have the same problem with difficult child 3 (only not to the same extent). We keep calling him to come and put them in the bin. Sometimes i wonder if he'll ever learn, but all I can do is keep reminding him to do it and hope the penny drops one day!

  9. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    "Do you think setting something like this up and letting him be in control would help? It would be a lesson in economics for all the kids as well as smart snack choices. What do you think?

    Sounds like putting the fox in charge of the hen house to me.
  10. mcrolling

    mcrolling New Member

    His doctor has been monitoring his weight over the last several years. He's off the charts on both his height and his weight, but they are proportionate to each other. I did the BMI thing on him a week or so ago and found out the same info. We haven't done a full blood work up, but his blood pressure and all is good. He does usually chunk up before he hits another growth spurt, so I do have a feeling that may be coming on. He has always been "dense", even as a toddler, but never looked big.

    A while back I was buying him those 100-calorie pack snacks from nabisco. They made portion control easy for him. But they weren't a very healthy snack and so pricey for what you got. I really just want him to be able to learn to listen to his body's cue and not eat from boredom.

    I appreciate all of your opinions and advice. This parenting gig is hard enough without throwing in a challenge. I did plan on making another appointment with- his doctor pretty soon.

    Oh and to whomever asked about his medications -- he is on the Daytrana 20mg patch.
  11. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member


    Have him tested for insulin resistance immediately. I wish I had tested my daughter earlier...she has struggled her entire life with weight.

    It did NOT matter how healthy I cooked, and the portion control...she gained.

    The hunger you describe doesn't seem normal either. A friend of mine just had gastric bypass. He said it was the first time in his ENTIRE life that he did not feel hungry 24 7....

    I think sometime people oversimplify that because someone is overweight it must just be that they eat unhealth or eat or emotional reasons.

    I believe there can definitely be a physical issue and just trying to get him to eat healthy and portion control won't be successful.

    Good luck. I have been there done that...it is heart wrenching.
  12. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member


    I am like your son...I get up in the middle of the night and eat (my mother does this too)

    I eat really odd things and usually gorge on multiple things. Some times I leave wrappers all over the place. Sometimes I take food back to bed with me.

    I use to think this was an eating disorder...it is not. It is a sleep disorder! Oprah did a special on it and I have read articles about it too.

    Mine usually kicks in when I am under a lot of stress. Sometimes I feel awake but cannot stop myself from going to the kitchen to eat. Other times I am asleep and cannot remember eating at all. husband has had to come to get me numerous times. Sometimes I will agree to go back to bed other times I get very aggitated and refuse to stop eating and leave the kitchen. I would say only 10 percent of the time am I aware of what I am doing. The only times I have no memory.
  13. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Welcome to the board! Sounds like you go to the pediatrition regularly but it might be worthwhile to have his blood sugar levels tested. A spike in BS and then a fall can lead to extreme hunger. A glucose tolerance test would provide this info. A visit to the nutritionist would provide both of you with valuable information. I am wondering if he sneaks food to avoid the critism he is getting from eating it. Even if you are not overly critical, he may be sensitive to it. I was an obese child and was constantly told not to eat this or that. I ended up becoming a serious closet eater and ended up consuming more food that way. It is great that he has a physical outlet like football and maybe you could find other physical outlets for the off season. Try to limit the availabilty of empty calories but don't restrict nutritional foods. Try to present it in a helpful way, like "I can't help but notice that you are hungry all the time. I think we should vist the doctor and a nutritionist to find out what foods might help you to stay full longer. " Maybe you could even present it as developing a diet that will help him to excel in football, whatever works!

    Good luck