Hoarding and hiding food

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Hoarding and hiding food

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Sometimes parents report that one of their children is hiding food in their room, hoarding – we call this hoarding behavior. And it’s quite common in children who’ve experienced neglect, either in the foster care system or before they even went into foster care. And certainly, even more common in children who’ve been adopted from abroad. It’s usually a symptom of neglect, of feeling powerless, of feeling that what they need they can’t have, a loss of control. Parents, first of all, need to respond in a non-punitive manner. They need to be empathic, they need to help their child to understand that what they need they will be provided. Some families actually translate this into kind of creative behavior. I had one parent once who became a kind of a co-collector of precious objects with their child and they stored them in the child’s room in a special area. Over time that reduced the hoarding, kind of the abnormal hoarding behavior, and turned this into a very acceptable, and co-occurring behavior between mom and daughter.

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David Brodzinsky, PhD

Psychologist & Author

David Brodzinsky is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Foster Care Counseling Project at Rutgers University. He also maintains an active private practice serving the clinical needs of children and families, including individuals who are part of the adoption triad. Brodzinsky has written and lectured extensively in the fields of developmental and clinical psychology and is an internationally known expert in the field of adoption. He is co-author of such well-known books as, The Psychology of Adoption, Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self, and Children's Adjustment to Adoption: Developmental and Clinical Issues.

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