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always begging food



What would you do? I have a needy student. I often have to feed him breakfast. He comes with a sandwich and juice for lunch, I often add an an apple or granola bar. Two weeks ago, he started being very demanding about the food ..."I don't want cereal, I want one of those muffins I got last time". He usually says "I need a snack" before he has eaten any of his lunch and repeats it often (in case I forget I guess). Since he started being picky about what we gave him we started letting him choose between 2 items we were comfortable withm, and that has helped a bit. He will come into the classroom from the playground if he knows there is food down where he can reach it....and take it.

He has recently started to beg food from other children and teachers in the playground. Children in my class know he's been fed, but those from other classes often give him something. This week it's gotten really bad - in one morning he had begged 3 or 4 items from students and supervision teachers. They generously gave him something because he told them he hadn't eaten, though we already fed him breakfast and added food to his lunch. Food is a huge deal to him, it is something we're dealing with daily with him. I he is deprived, and I'm willing to feed him as necessary, but I need advice on how to handle his constant, repeated, loud demands for food, and the begging from others. What would you do?


food deprivation

Hi Bertie~

Maybe I can offer some advice. Before I started teaching, I worked at a residential treatment facility with boys ages 5-10. Many of our boys had been food deprived before they came to us. When they finally came to a place that had plenty of food for them, some would beg and horde food. Even though they were getting plenty for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack. That almost always came from not having food before and trust issues. They feel they need to get as much as they can before it's gone/ deprived again.

This is extreme, but we had one boy who stole food during the night. He wouldn't stop no matter what. We finally allowed him to have a bowl or apples and oranges next to his bed (about 8 pieces). Sure enough they would all be eaten by morning. Eventually it stopped.

I'm assuming this student is not getting breakfast at home since he's fed at school? If he's not getting breakfast and is begging for food, he may not be getting dinner either. Chances are he may get nothing from lunch until breakfast the next day. If this is happening, he could be begging for that reason. He probably has underlying issues, and it's obvious that it's not just that he's hungry. When do you have snack? I would try (this is trial and error I guess) giving him the 2 choices for breakfast and sticking to that. Give him the extra items at lunch. I don't know when you have snack, but is it possible for him to get a snack right at the end of the day, or something he can take home?

Of course you don't want a child that is begging everyone for food, but I'm sure you don't want a child who isn't getting properly fed.

I think if he continues to get fed at school, he will hopefully eventually stop begging.

What is his home life like? Probably not very good. Can you find out if he's getting fed in the evenings?

Good luck. He's lucky to have you, because you sound like a very caring teacher.



The previous post was an excellent and insightful response. I might try letting him have a storage area or container that contained packages of crackers, fruit cups, etc. so that he could know that he had plenty of food waiting for him. Then set up rules for the times when he would be allowed to get things from the container. Tell all the other teachers that the child has this container--and let them help you stock it if you wish so that they will not feel the need to give him food upon his demand. Make sure that his food pantry is never near empty--perhaps keep a box of cheerios, can of nuts, etc or other large containers that he is allowed to have a dixie cup at a time of. I think the key is to get him to trust that he will have plenty, but to learn that there are appropriate times for eating. You might want to start out with several snack opportunities throughout the day, then ween him off by having him get a non-food reward for skipping a snack time. (chance to play a video game during stations, use paints, etc.) I don't know if it would help, but it's an idea!