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ABC Gum Addicted Child – Any suggestions?

My 4 year old is an ABC gum addict. Yep it’s cringeworthy. I think I threw up a little in my mouth just typing that. If you’re not familiar with the term, it stands for “already been chewed.”

So here’s the thing – we’ve caught him at it several times, but he’s very very sneaky about it so we know he must have done it even more and we just didn’t catch him.

He is crazy about sweets (candy if we’re in the US) and is always asking for sweets and sweeties. We try to limit his intake on them to a low level sugar buzz – but he’s always ready for more. He does get fruit daily and we water down his juice. He’s always been a good eater and will eat almost anything you put in front of him but prefers eggs for breakfast with bread and nutella and  chicken and salmon and rice as his lunch or dinner of choice – with apples, bananas and clementines though-out the day and a granola bar for an after school snack.

So he’s not deprived (of nutritious food or sweet things, he’s half Belgian so does get his daily does of chocolate) – but gum is one of those things we don’t think is for children.

The first time it happened I had picked him up from school and we took a bus down the road to Peter Jones department store. He was sitting next to me and we chatted the whole time and he enjoyed a juicebox. We then made purchases on several floors – me holding his hand the whole time. When we got to the card section (30 mins after the bus-ride) I see him pulling something long and stringy out of his mouth – I ask him “what is that” and he tells me it’s his gum. I asked him where he got it and he gave me a complicated story about Aliens putting it in his pocket. After I assured him I didn’t believe his story and he needed to tell me the truth he said he found it between the seats on the bus. GAG!

So I got rid of the gum, told him it was never ok to pick up food, candy or gum that he found in public, on a bus, on the street, floor, sidewalk – his response “but I like sweets!”

Since then he got in trouble at school for chewing ABC gum he found in the school yard and playing with it. We’ve also stopped numerous occasions on the bus, street etc, where he pretends to tie his shoes (which are velcro strapped) or drop his bag or book to try and sneakily get the ABC gum.

So it’s not just gross – it could be potentially unhealthy. He gave our family stomach flu and other colds etc this – and no wonder! We watch him more carefully than ever – but there’s got to be something to make this stop.

So if you have any suggestions on how you’ve dealt with this or what to do – I could use your advice or support.

I do hold out hope, Kelly from Momservations is a self-confessed ex ABC gum addict. (so like my son she was 4 too – and she’s been ABC gum free since, you can read her Confessions of ABC gum addict here)

Any words of wisdom?

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8 years ago 7 Comments Short URL

7 Comments

  1. Here’s the response I left at http://www.Momservations.com for Jackie about my own experience w/ ABC gum:

    Unfortunately I do think you’re going to have to loosen your “gum is not for kids” rule. I may have stopped chewing ABC gum (after all it was a struggle between ew and I really, really want that – ew, starts to win out when kids and cousins tease you), but I still wanted the chewy deliciousness of spearmint or Hubba Bubba bubble gum. My brother and I would scrounge for bottles to return so we could go to 7-Eleven. Imagine a 7 year old scrounging garbage cans so they can get 10 cents to rush to nearest convenience store for their gum fix. I used to buy the gum, chew it ecstatically all the way home, hide it in the closet, disappear frequently to my room to go have a quick chew – all totally terrified I’d get caught, but it never stopped me.

    At Halloween I traded all my chocolate for my brother’s gum. When I was 11 I bought a bag of Double Bubble from the Halloween clearance bin and thought the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous had nothing on me.

    My point being – if your son is so in love with icky ABC gum, I doubt this gum thing is just going to go away because you told him to just stop it. Do you really want to start at 4 with a kid that is willing to go behind your back to get what they want? I’m thinking a stick of gum now and then is not devastatingly compromising your values. Rather, you can use it in a Fair Trade Agreement – If I let you have gum as a dessert will you brush your teeth every night without being told?

    Good luck and keep us posted on how it goes!
    Enjoy the journey, Kelli

    • Jackie says:

      Thanks Kelli I appreciate the advice. I think you make a great point about

      “Do you really want to start at 4 with a kid that is willing to go behind your back to get what they want? I’m thinking a stick of gum now and then is not devastatingly compromising your values. ”

      But I’m also afraid that it’s rewarding his sneaky behavior in giving him what he was trying to get. We’ll probably cave and get him the gum. My other concern is that he doesn’t see the ABC gum as “icky.” My 6 year old gagged when he heard about it – so it’s either an age based thing, personal preference – or we used the 3 second rule too many times lol :0)

      Another friend suggested baiting the house with ABC gum treated with no-bite nail stuff – not only would I be afraid of poisoning him, but can you imagine chewed gum all over the house?!

      I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

  2. Ok this isn’t going to help much. I was that child when I was small. I would pick it up from the streets, and the passageway by my house. I was always chewing other people’s gum, because my Mum was strict about me never having any. I had tonsilitis 3 times a year but never associated it with the gum. My parents never knew. Around the age of 10 I realised how disgusting it was and stopped. But by then I had my own gum.
    Could you maybe let him have his own and limit it to once a day in the house?

    • Jackie says:

      Thanks – since we’ve gotten your suggestion and Kelli’s we’ve let him have gum a few times and supervised to make sure he didn’t choke, etc. He was ok with it. And I thought the messaging was clear about not picking up candy/gum from street, floor etc. That was until yesterday when he was walking around with a Kinder Surprise egg and a piece broke off, rolled across the floor into the bathroom. I went running after him (as he was chasing the chocolate) saying no no don’t eat that (as it was on the bathroom floor). He got there first and gobbled it up. *Sigh*

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