To want DSS to eat his packed lunch

(52 Posts)
Lvcat Thu 07-Nov-13 09:03:09

DSS is 6 and is in y2 of KS1. He has extra behavioural needs and can be distracted very easily in class and will attention seek and tantrum.
We have been struggling with him to get him to eat his packed lunches. He does not have a great deal in there (only a wrap, some kind if cheese item an a banana/apple) as was recommended to us by our social worker. But he will still come home from school having only eaten half a wrap, saying he's starving.

AIBU to expect that there should be some level of supervision in the dining hall at school to make sure children are actually eating as this must affect his concentration/behaviour in the afternoons?

Euphemia Thu 07-Nov-13 09:10:18

What do you expect the staff to do, force it down his throat?

Have you asked them to encourage him to eat?

Preciousbane Thu 07-Nov-13 09:13:08

It's been a long time since I have been in a dinner hall and when I was at school you were forced to eat your dinners.

I think you should contact the school and inform them of the issue and not assume anything. Does he have any additional support in class?

Gileswithachainsaw Thu 07-Nov-13 09:16:58

I think at lunch time the care switches over to the mid day supervisers, the teachers aren't present. There are only a few to the hundred/299 plus children and there are yogurts to take kids off, bars to unwrap, drinks to stab with the straw etc. There wil not be one free to stand by your child coaxing him im afraid.

Lvcat Thu 07-Nov-13 09:22:06

It is something we have mentioned to the school as we have bi-weekly CAF meetings with his class teacher and SENCO and they said they would look into it but nothing has changed.

We have tried the sitting down and explaining why you need to eat all your lunch and we talk about healthy diet and we even out little notes in this lunchbox to remind him but nothing seems to work.

When children have school dinners they are fully supervised the ensure they finish all their food (the school have told us this) but the same is not done with children who have packed lunches.
Putting him in school dinners is not an option as he used to have them but would come home telling us all he had eaten was potato of some kind (waffles, mashed, chips)

mrsjay Thu 07-Nov-13 09:22:25

the staff can not make him eat they really can't you can mention it to them but what can they do if he has behaviour issues does he get support , if not then as i said they cant do anything and make him eat, when dds were in primary they made the children bring all the lunch box rubbish home and not bin it so parents could see what they are eating which sounds like it is happening here, can you make him half a bread sandwich and not a full wrap and his piece of fruit , so he doesnt feel over whelmed tbh children just want out to play at 6

mrsyattering Thu 07-Nov-13 09:22:49

My dd is now in P2, for the whole of her first year at school, she hardly ate a thing. Went and spoke to them regularly and had someone check she had eaten something. Even now she only eats at least half of the very little she has been given. She goes to school dinners now at least once a week, and on the days they are having something she likes. She seems to eat more on these days (so they tell me)
Definitely go and speak to them, there will be a dinner monitor who can encourage him

mrsjay Thu 07-Nov-13 09:23:22

oh I see he has senco cal them again why is potao waffles a problem ?

Branleuse Thu 07-Nov-13 09:23:30

does he like what youre giving him?

My very fussy ds2 became a much better eater in general when put on school dinners

PatriciaHolm Thu 07-Nov-13 09:23:36

There's no harm asking nicely if someone can keep an eye out. At our primary, teachers are told if someone is having issues re. lunch and the supervisors (a teacher and TA as well as lunch supervisors) will keep a eye on them.

mrsjay Thu 07-Nov-13 09:24:10

potato* I used to send one of mine for dinners once a week as she hardly ate a thing did seem to help her

Artandco Thu 07-Nov-13 09:24:44

Tbh if he really doesn't want to eat it they won't force it. However if he has assistance maybe they could encourage him.

Can you get him to have a good breakfast? And snack after?

Schools only 9-3 ish so I'm assuming he's just not that hungry in between if having good breakfast and snack after school. Maybe add some kind of milkshake or similar if worried about calories if he's small

Lvcat Thu 07-Nov-13 09:25:08

Mrsjay- he was having half bread sandwiches before and not eating any of it, so we switched to wraps.

Joysmum Thu 07-Nov-13 09:25:23

I don't advocate pushing a child to eat. I believe in 3 meals at regular times with fruit or veg as the only option between times.

Gileswithachainsaw Thu 07-Nov-13 09:25:37

Some schools allow some of the additional need children to eat in a classroom or somewhere quiet as they can't cope with the noise etc. Does your school do this, could your Ds join then? There will be a staff member and fewer children and less distraction so that might work better?

Artandco Thu 07-Nov-13 09:26:08

Could you give him pototo salad if he likes potatoes?

mrsjay Thu 07-Nov-13 09:27:15

oh was he so you have tried that, go back to the school and speak to them again I wonder they dont encourage packed lunch eating but they do school dinner eating, as you said they will encourage them to eat their hot lunch

MadeOfStarDust Thu 07-Nov-13 09:27:46

Depends how things are done at your school - I used to be a mid day supervisor - due to a complete lack of funding ours went down to 4 MDS for 400 kids.... 2 inside, 2 outside... with 2 sittings of 200 kids.... not a lot of "noticing" went on TBH ...

ShoeWhore Thu 07-Nov-13 09:28:25

Does he respond to rewards OP? Just wondered if you could set up some kind of rewards system based on how much he eats?

Lvcat Thu 07-Nov-13 09:30:54

Giles- that a good idea. I might ask them.

The school is very strict on what we can put in lunch boxes so milkshake would be a no go area. We once got a letter home from school, telling us off for sending him with a jam sandwich because we'd run out of ham.

School dinners at his school are quite a deal more expensive than making a packed lunch and we are just not eligible for free school dinners so we couldn't justify the money for him to just eat chips all week.

I guess it's probably just going to be an ongoing battle until he has a growth spurt and wants to eat I just worry because he's such a tiny little thing. Especially now it's eating cold.

ihearsounds Thu 07-Nov-13 09:31:15

Have you tried different foods other than bread based?

Lvcat Thu 07-Nov-13 09:32:21

*getting cold - have eating on the brain obviously hahaha

mrsjay Thu 07-Nov-13 09:33:05

I am sure he had something more than chips he probably forgot what else he had you could try once a week or fortnight to have a school lunch,

Grennie Thu 07-Nov-13 09:33:10

At school dinners in my school, kids used to be made to eat their lunch. But the only way that was monitored was you took your plate up at the end, and if you had too much food on, you were sent back to finish it.

I can't see practically how any school has the number of staff needed to check if children with packed lunches have eaten their lunch.

I think all you can do is a reward system. Or could you give him a very cheap payg mobile and ring him yourself at lunchtime to encourage him to eat?

noblegiraffe Thu 07-Nov-13 09:33:13

Could you switch his lunch for something slightly more 'fun'? Thermos of soup, pasta salad made with character pasta, I dunno, something that might catch his attention?

How much of that lunch would he eat at home?

mrsjay Thu 07-Nov-13 09:34:01

lvcat this is why I let dd have lunch some days in the winter so at least i knew she was eating something,

Artandco Thu 07-Nov-13 09:34:29

Lv- homemade smoothie/ milkshake is surely ok? If you use uht milk it doesn't have to stay in fridge. Although could put in a thermos cup ( the ones with pop up drinking part). Would he drink say avocado/ banana/ and milk? Maybe with a little honey? Or frozen berries blitzed with milk? Can add tofu for protein if lacking

Gileswithachainsaw Thu 07-Nov-13 09:35:06

Could you take him home for lunch? Or even just sit in the car or at the park in summer?

Lvcat Thu 07-Nov-13 09:38:40

He eats sandwiches at home in fact toasters are his favourite!

A thermos of soup is a good idea now it's cold. Will have to check the schools guidelines. We pretty much have a list of "approved foods" we can send him with and have to stick to that.

Regarding rewards. We have a star chart at home where we write underneath what he gets each star for and he has a "good news book" which travels between here and home to help reinforce good habits and if he's eaten anything in full I always make a point of writing about it in the book with him but he's very apathetic about both things.

mrsjay Thu 07-Nov-13 09:40:07

if he eats fine at home then he is probably just distracted in the lunch room I think the poster who said about the kids who go to a quieter room is a great idea and ask your school about that,

Lvcat Thu 07-Nov-13 09:41:56

Thank you all for the advice!
Most of it seems like common sense really.

Will investigate the possibility of having a quieter area for him to eat in.

ihearsounds Thu 07-Nov-13 09:42:16

Is it just the days that you have him that he is not eating?

starfishmummy Thu 07-Nov-13 09:45:48

Does it have to be sandwiches? My ds wouldn't eat these either but he will have all the components as a "deconstructed" sandwich! So the bread or wrap (he won't eat butter or spread); a protein item and some salad or cold cooked vegetables but all separately!!

Lvcat Thu 07-Nov-13 09:46:04

He lives with us full time and has done since he was 2.5 xx

spindlyspindler Thu 07-Nov-13 09:48:55

I think parents worry too much about this stuff. If your son's coming home with a half-eaten wrap, the chances are he's eating quite slowly and stopping when he's no longer hungry. That's intuitive eating and it's a really good thing which should be encouraged. FWIW I was a very slow eater when I was a kid and never finished my plate because I just couldn't. My father went on and on at me for eating slowly and said I should eat really quickly to get it all down whilst it was hot and then I wouldn't waste my food. I now bolt my food, eat far too much of it as a result (because I'm eating so fast my stomach doesn't have time to work out what my mouth's been up to until it's too late) and I'm very overweight. If he stops eating because he's hungry, that's fine, and if he comes home hungry give him a snack then. Don't get adults to hang over him and nag him about his eating. I'm not saying don't have mealtimes or structure, but I will never nag a child to eat if they say they aren't hungry. (If they say they don't want the sandwich but they do want the chocolate, I'd be inclined to conclude that they aren't really hungry smile )

Lvcat Thu 07-Nov-13 09:51:44

Spindly- he does this a lot. Will say he's not hungry then ask for something out of the treat cupboard. The little rascal. grin

spindlyspindler Thu 07-Nov-13 10:05:32

Bwahahaha! I had form for that too. smile

eggsandwich Thu 07-Nov-13 10:09:42

We had this with my ds a few years ago, my ds has sn and would sit in the dinner hall to eat his pack lunch but because there was so much noise and a lot going on he struggled to concentrate and focus on eating his pack lunch, I had a word with senco and asked if we could try letting him eat his pack lunch in the classroom instead as it would be quieter and it worked.

FossilMum Thu 07-Nov-13 10:28:48

As Starfish suggests, perhaps 'deconstruct' the sandwiches? My DS (6) will eat a pot full of cubes of cheese together with a pot of fruit plus a low-protein sandwich like marmite or veggie pate or jam, but will not eat a cheese sandwich. He also prefers a separate felafel in a pot over one in a felafel-hummus sandwich. He will eat bread, through. Perhaps your son would prefer cheese with a pack of oatcakes/low-salt crackers instead of with bread/wrap?

Perhaps also consider occasional nutritious alternatives like mini-quiches, cold pasta salads?

Can you provide him with some element of choice for each day's lunch? DS likes to feel in control, so each morning he gets to choose which of a limited range of available fillings he will have on that particular day. We divide his sandwiches in half, and have a rule that one half can be whatever he wants, and the other has to either be reasonably high in protein or accompanied by a pot of cheese cubes.

Do look carefully about how much is going in to the packed lunch compared to what he will routinely eat comfortably at home. If you add several extras (a whole banana is quite filling) then naturally he'll have less room for the wrap, esp. if he's distracted and wanting to get out to play. Mine doesn't have room for a whole fruit plus his sandwich, so I give him a pot of 'cutted-up' pieces of fruit about equivalent to a small satsuma or 1/3 apple.

Artandco Thu 07-Nov-13 10:33:23

Yes maybe ' easy' to eat food.

So fruit cut up in a pot
Cheese in cubes
Some leftover chicken/ ham/ boiled egg cut up in another pot

So he just has to pick the pieces out and eat

maybe3x Thu 07-Nov-13 10:46:40

My sil has had this with dn since reception, she has no sn, she's now Y4 and still barely eats anything at school lunch.

I think she's made too big a deal out of it with the rewards, threats, no snacks as a punishment, talks about it, pleading, telling off etc etc its become a huge power struggle which she isn't winning, dn is still here and healthy despite minimal lunches on school days.

Eating in a quieter room is a good idea if they have the resources for this but if it was me as long as he's getting a good breakfast and a good meal in the evening I would not make an issue out of lunch at all. Put less in, foods that can be nibbled and a reasonable nutritious snack when he gets home.

LisaMed Thu 07-Nov-13 10:54:03

My ds is nt but awkward. I have a daily battle with the lunch box.

I go for cooked sausage, cooked pizza, scotch eggs, cheese strings etc for protein. I've even sunk as low as chicken nuggets (naice ones). High points are cooked chicken or chunks of ham. Then I add a pot of jelly with fruit, cucumber sticks etc and a bag of french fries crisps (lowish fat) for some carbs.

I'm not a good mum, and I am not good at the healthy diet, so probably not best advice. Though I do my best.

When I was very poorly and h was in charge of lunchboxes we even sunk so low as the Snack attack packs. DS loved them, but the are @ £1.79 each. Mind you, school are ridiculously lax.

Can you have a bribe for him eating more of his lunch? Like, if he eats his wrap every day for the next week he could get an (inexpensive) action figure he likes?

LisaMed Thu 07-Nov-13 10:55:52

btw when ds was on school dinners he always came home famished even though he was eating all his lunch. When I got him home I always had a ham sandwich with cucumber sticks or similar ready so he could go straight for something healthy. Would that be a useful alternative?

FossilMum Thu 07-Nov-13 12:32:05

Another idea (kids can be so weird sometimes, it's worth trying anything!): my DS can sometimes get overwhelmed when he sees too much food on his plate, resulting in him actually eating significantly LESS than he would have if he'd been given a smaller portion. So you might find that if you give him a whole wrap he eats half of it, but if you give him a three-quarters-sized portion he eats it all.

ShoeWhore Thu 07-Nov-13 14:20:58

Another thought OP - is he allowed to take a snack? Just thinking you could send the fruit or cheese item in as part of morning snack, then he has less to get through at dinner time?

SaucyJack Thu 07-Nov-13 15:38:26

Sounds perfectly normal for a six year old to me.

You could always get him to eat/finish his fruit at home before cracking out the biscuits.

CarrotCakeMuffins Thu 07-Nov-13 15:57:15

Last year, my DD had a friend with additional needs but not SN. He had a 'lunch buddy' which was a friend who sat next to him at lunchtime & encouraged him to eat his packed lunch. They also stayed with him until he'd finished. This helped him focus on his lunch rather than getting distracted & not eating. The lunch buddy varied, sometimes it was my DD.

I don't know if this is still in place this year as they are in different classes.

Would something like this help if he needs encouragement & company?

soaccidentprone Thu 07-Nov-13 16:12:12

I'm obviously really mean.

I made ds1 & 2 finish their packed lunches when they got home before they could eat anything else.

So if they had 2 sandwiches ie 1 slice of bread folded in 1/2 and cut in 1/2 again they had to eat that before they could have anything else.

So when they were 6 they had 2 sandwiches (as above), some pepper sticks, a yogurt and some grapes or a satsuma.

They usually ate the nice stuff and left the sandwich. So they had to eat the sandwich at home (as long as it wasn't snurped up).

If they did well and ate all their lunch every day, they also had a packet of crips on Friday.

Good luck smile

CrohnicallyTired Thu 07-Nov-13 17:03:24

I have experience with a high functioning child with ASD who found eating his lunch difficult.

Firstly, he was given the choice of where to sit- either in the hall (first sitting when it was quieter) or in the classroom with a friend.

Secondly, he had a social story explaining why he needed to eat. He like robots and machinery type things, so we linked it to cars needing fuel and his body running in food.

Thirdly, he had a reward chart, so he brought his lunch box to me each lunch so I could see what he had eaten, and gave him one sticker on his chart for each item eaten- he had a similar lunch box to your sons with just 3 items in.

Lvcat Thu 07-Nov-13 20:25:16

Spoke to teachers and suggested a "lunch buddy" they said they are going to ask some responsible y6 students to sit on the same table as Ds to help encourage him to eat.

Thanks for all your suggestions going to try a few and see what works.

Tomorrow's lunch is pots of cheese cubes, chopped up sausage rolls (although I'm sure school will deem this "not healthy enough") and some carrot/pepper sticks.

Gileswithachainsaw Thu 07-Nov-13 20:37:07

Glad yet offered a potential solution. Hope it works for you smile

Sophie18 Thu 07-Nov-13 21:16:18

Whatever he didn't eat one day I would give him just that and fruit the next day. Children shouldn't be pandered to and if they really are hungry they wouldn't be bothered about what's in their packed lunch. I do agree that lunchtime supervisors should be more strict about eating. When I was at school, we weren't allowed to leave the dining room until we'd eaten everything, it was a very small school so much easier to manage this.

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