Raised: 12-year-old daughter eats too much

Mother: “Our daughter (12) cuts a lot of rolls of cookies and bags of candy through it. We buy an average of two rolls of small cookies for our five-person family during the weekly shopping, and often something larger such as stroopwafels at the weekend. We think 1 or 2 cookies a day is normal. However, the stock of cookies is regularly used up on Tuesdays because Mrs. is home alone after school and then makes her move. Or she sneaks into the pantry at an unguarded moment to get some. She can rustle very quietly.

We never have sweets, but buy them with her own money or with euros lying around the house.

We want to raise her to be someone who uses her body, her teeth, the ‘family stock’ and the household purse wisely. We have often talked to her and made agreements about what is ‘normal’. But whether we get angry, hide things, don’t say anything, it doesn’t help. She says she agrees with us, but in practice things go wrong.

Measures such as hiding or punishment do not suit us. We see our family as a mini-democracy in which we all have our own responsibilities. We want her to learn for herself that she has to keep pace.

We don’t know why she eats so much. She has enough friends, can learn well, and is also very independent in her actions. (Sometimes a little too much.)

Lately, she hasn’t even made up excuses for her snacking behavior anymore – she just shrugs and rolls her eyes puberty. She is still slim now, but the question is whether she will stay that way if she continues like this. What is the right approach here?”

Name is known to the editor. The section Educated is anonymous, because difficulties in education are sensitive.

Self-control is difficult

Marga Akkerman: “You describe your daughter as the Cookie Monster, but what she does belongs to a starting teenager. Self-control is difficult for teenagers. This will not work if you understand your own behaviour. Your daughter is too young for that. You have already tried everything but to no avail. This could be the result of your policy: you have ideas about what is and what is not allowed, but you do not attach any consequences to it. In such a situation, children do what they want.

Try it this way: make an emphatic distinction between eating to satisfy your hunger and sweets. Cookies and sweets are a bonus and you can enjoy them together as a family. But if you’re hungry, go get something to eat. That is fine with a few sandwiches with thick toppings, and fruit, as teenagers do at all times of the day and night.

You will have to make sure that the cookie moments are really family moments. Policy must always be monitored, even in a democracy. Indicate that she can always come to you if it is difficult for her to control herself.”

teenagers are hungry

Bass Delivery: “This kid could just be hungry. Growing teenagers can eat like bears. Sweets very quickly dampen the appetite when you are twelve. Teach her to satisfy her hunger with healthier foods. If necessary, have it ready when you are not at home. I also advise you to take the temptations away from her, so no cake in the house, and no euros lying around. Even adults who have trouble controlling themselves benefit from such tricks. Teenagers have yet to learn all that.

It has been established in science for a century that adolescents can be extremely unreasonable, especially towards their parents. They also often fail to keep to their sacred intentions. For example, your daughter says she agrees with you, but in practice things often go wrong. Seeing the family as a mini-democracy, as you do, isn’t that crazy after all. As long as you keep in mind that a child of twelve is also a child. By the way, you speak very distantly about her. In the relationship with adolescents, a lot of love has to come from one side. That’s just the way it is. Be careful not to hate her.”

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