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[IP] Re: 5 year old sneaking food -- rather long, sorry

It seems to me (from a distance) that you are expecting more logic circuits
in a 5-year-old than they typically come wired with.  I did the same with my
child (and my parents did it to me) -- it's hard not to assume that a
5-year-old understands what you say to her, especially with your first child
and with (2?) younger ones to ride herd on.  As your other children grow,
you'll have the experience you are getting now (because of the 'training'
you are getting from your oldest) and will probably have more realistic
expectations for their cognitive ability at different ages.

In my experience, five is an age when children are articulate enough to know
what they are supposed to say back when confronted, but not really wired to
understand it or process it.  As a non-diabetic example, my sister had
problems with her daughter at about that age, the issue being showing her
underwear to boys on request.  My niece could parrot back the reasons why
she shouldn't do this, could role-play correct behavior with her parents,
and could give all the 'right' answers when questioned -- she really seemed
to understand it all logically.  She just couldn't (wouldn't, didn't, you
pick the verb) apply what she seemed to 'know' to her everyday actions.  She
drove her parents crazy. (I'm glad to say at 17 she no longer behaves this
way, but it took some 'serious' steps over several months to get her to
stop.  What finally helped was requiring her to wear overalls (which she
hated) for a while, and then slackening up as she learned more

In my experience, five year olds, however responsible they appear, need a
great deal of structure to help them cope with the everyday stresses of
being five.  The quickest way to change 'bad' behavior is to remove the
reward for it (in this case, possibly the commotion she causes when she
finally 'fesses up??? -- a reward doesn't have to be something good).  I'd
suggest making undesired behavior as inconvenient as possible, limited
rewards for behavior you want to encourage (you might be surprised what five
year olds will do for stickers on the refrigerator), and _short-term_
consequences and reinforcements (stickers for blood sugars within a certain
range, and an extra story before bed if she accumulates three in a day, or
something like that).

Five-year-olds can fake it well, but they really can't think long-term
(tomorrow is long-term).  I'm sure she loves you a lot, but hurting your
feelings isn't at the front of her mind when she eats an unauthorized bagel
half -- much less the possibility of long-term complications.

I'm sure you guys are great parents.  You are faced with a more challenging
situation than most families deal with (2 diabetics and at least 3 small
children) and it sounds like you need to cut yourselves some slack.  You are
not bad parents, and she is not an habitual liar, nor is she doomed to a
life of moral duplicity and constant complications.  She's a normal little
girl, going through the kind of power struggles normal 5 year olds go
through.  With some kids, rebellion is crossing the street unauthorized.
For her, it's poaching her brother's bagel.  I'm sure you'll all do fine in
the long run.

Hope this helps.  Take what does and ignore the rest.

Kathy Trondsen.

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