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being made to eat all dinner or miss playtime

(30 Posts)
kissingfrogs Wed 15-Jun-11 23:29:07

Does this really seem fair to you?

Dd2s teacher asked me nicely to put less in dd2s packed lunch - and put in only foods that can be eaten quickly - because when the Head is supervising the children are made to stay behind to finish ALL of their dinner even if it means missing most of playtime.

Dd2 is a slow eater. She also has eating issues so has a quite self-limiting diet. I tend to add a bit extra to her packed lunches to give her the choice and tempt her to have a pick at a food she rarely eats, eg tomatoes and cucumber in the hope she'll eat them one day, a new biscuit with the usual one hoping she'll try it etc. I don't mind if some food comes back home uneaten, it usually gets recycled into dd1s packed lunch (she eats like a horse).

I know that you can not make dd2 eat something she doesn't want. It doesn't work. Consequently, when the Head is on duty dd2 has been kept in.

I've whittled the packed lunch down to one small ham sandwich, one yoghurt and 1 drink. If put something else in she'll take longer to eat or may not eat it all.

I don't feel at all comfortable with this. I want to say something but I can imagine that it's one rule for all and the Head would find it difficult to make an exception for one.

What would you do?

gazzalw Thu 16-Jun-11 07:18:25

It is a problem that dates back years. When we were at school we had to eat all of our lunches - it was non-negotiable and those who didn't like them were on a slow table and really would miss most of their lunch playtime! Harsh but in some ways it taught us to just get on with it. Do think we all pander to our fussy children too much these days
DCs quite often come home after eating only 1 thing from lunchbox (other times they will eat everything). Only give them stuff they will eat so it's not really about the food but chatting etc.... DW gets really upset when DD comes out of school in a strop and you know it's because she's eaten about 100 calories of lunch and that she's really hungry. Would love for the teachers to ensure they eat it all up
Maybe you should just give her what you know she will eat and leave the tempting extras that she rarely eats for home time (battles)???
DW makes our two eat what they haven't eaten for lunch when they get home and then delays dinner for them till later!

mumblechum1 Thu 16-Jun-11 07:22:58

What Gazzalw said.

Don't pander to fussiness, if they're hungry, they'll eat whatever's in front of them.

rainbowinthesky Thu 16-Jun-11 07:24:03

I would complain. No way would I be happy if dd was expected to eat all her lunch if she didnt want to. Wish I hadnt been made to when I was younger.

juuule Thu 16-Jun-11 07:36:35

I agree with rainbowsky.
My children sometimes finished their lunches off at home-time. Sometimes they are not that hungry at lunch-time. They will usually eat if hungry.

hugeleyoutnumbered Thu 16-Jun-11 07:40:01

this really isn't on complain, the dictatorship that goes on in schools amazes me, could you bring her home for lunch?

kreecherlivesupstairs Thu 16-Jun-11 07:42:39

DD has the appetite of a woodlouse. They have one lunch time supervisor and she makes DD eat everything in her lunchbox. DD may only want one half of her sandwich on that particular day, but Miss Q makes DD eat everything.
It is hard to judge in the morning what she will want to eat at lunchtime. I try not to put too much in, but inevitably DD comes out of school ravenous because she hides it.
Miss Q has taken to standing by the bin to police DD and finds me at home time to tell tales.
In some ways I am happy about this, in others I am not. Essentially I have no advice but am bloody glad she finishes school tomorrow.

TheSkiingGardener Thu 16-Jun-11 07:43:48

Forcing children to eat is just plain wrong. It send the wrong messages about food and about diet. I would ask if you can talk to the head and explain the issue. If she insists on her way then to be honest it's pick your battles time.

Ephiny Thu 16-Jun-11 07:47:26

That's ridiculous - why would it be ok for you to put less in her lunchbox, but not for her to eat less of what you currently put? Even if it meant she was eating exactly the same amount in either case?

I can't see how it's a good thing to pressure children to 'clear their plate' (or indeed lunchbox!) if they're not hungry, with punishments if they don't. That's a habit a lot of us have to unlearn as adults to avoid getting overweight!

RitaMorgan Thu 16-Jun-11 07:53:59

I would speak to the Head - it's not healthy to make children eat everything in front of them, they should eat to their appetites. Encouraging overeating and eating too quickly is likely to cause them problems later with obesity!

Is it a "Healthy Eating" school - I'd ask the Head how his rule fits in to this.

WowOoo Thu 16-Jun-11 08:00:59

Think you're doing the right thing by making lunches smaller in that case.
Really would not be happy with that kind of policy.

Surely other parents not happy too. You could ask around and then get some friends to come with you if you see the Head.

GnomeDePlume Thu 16-Jun-11 08:22:11

I would want to explain to the head that what the child eats or doesnt eat is primarily my responsibility not the school's. All I would want is that any rubbish or uneaten food are sent home so that I know what the child has eaten.

This isnt pandering to fussyness. When children first start school there is a lot to get used to including eating in a busyroom to a timetable which suits the school more than the child.

Isitreally Thu 16-Jun-11 08:44:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

swash Thu 16-Jun-11 11:04:00

I think that is terrible - and a way of creating anxiety around food for sensitive children. Crazy thing to do with all that we know about eating disorders. My friend's dd had a similar situation in school - she has to put her hand up when finished and the dinnerlady 'inspects' her lunchbox and cajoles her to eat more etc. It's caused an ongoing problem.

I would complain. But I would also make my dd's lunch small, nutritious and totally focused on foods she likes to avoid any problems. You can do trying new foods at home.

veritythebrave Thu 16-Jun-11 11:16:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jezabelle Thu 16-Jun-11 13:09:54

I was going to start a similar thread actually. In fact it's a bigger issue at my dds school I think. They don't let them leave much food, making them put their hand up for the lunchbox inspection when finished. DD is in reception says "I feel nervous in my tummy when I have to put my hand up at the end wait for Mrs D". Sometimes they make them drink all their drink too. My dd drinks very little and always has, but I like to put more juice in her bottle than I think she'll drink. Now I just put a small bit in.

I am always being told what is and isn't exceptable by my dd as she must always be told this by the lunch staff, eg. "you should put 3 things in my lunch box mummy. A sandwich, a piece of fruit (because that is healthy) and one other thing." Or "you musn't put chocolate in my lunch box because that's unhealthy."

My dd is not a fussy eater but she's a little thing and doesn't have a huge appetite. I disagree that children become fussy eaters through being pandered to as a general rule, (unless literally cooking seperate meals or cooking a new meal because the child refuses the first one.) I believe that offering mostly "healthy" foods from a young age and not insisting on a child eating anything produces a good relationship with food.

Her friend was told off for having chocolate cake in her lunchbox recently. It was actually malt loaf. She was quite upset by it and asked her mum not to give her malt loaf again. Firstly, I don't think a slice of choc ccake should be banned personally, plus if the school do see it as a problem, then tell the parents, not a 5 year old!

My dd knows plenty about what happens your food after it's been eaten but I do make a big deal of healthy and unhealthy foods at home. Eating disorders are on the rise. Children who tend to stirve for perfection are more vulnerable imo when it is drilled into them at a young age.

I haven't been in to school yet but, like op, am seriously considering it. I suppose I'm just not sure it'll have much of an impact. Won't they just think I'm fussing over nothing and that it's obvious that children should be made to eat up?

veritythebrave Thu 16-Jun-11 13:25:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

2BoysTooLoud Thu 16-Jun-11 13:27:50

I second what others have said about not putting 'things to try' in lunch box. My ds does not have sandwiches at all in lunch box as won't eat them. Slightly odd combination in box and not masses as know slow eater. School sends back what not eaten but at moment seem to have got balance right.

LetThereBeCake Thu 16-Jun-11 13:32:12

I have sometimes got frustrated with DS1's school - they are allowed to run off and play whenever they think they've finished. Even if it's quarter of a sandwich. I guess that's better than the situation you're describing here though.

Jezabelle Thu 16-Jun-11 13:58:13

verity that's a really good point, dd has school dinner 2 times a week because she likes it. But I think it's mainly the pudding that she likes! Our school haven't banned cake, just choc cake! hmm

Let there be cake an appropriate name for this thread! I can see the other extreme doesn't work either. Don't think a child can be expected to do much learning in the afternoon with next to no lunch. Not sure what the answer is.

Anyone think their school has got it right?

Insomnia11 Thu 16-Jun-11 18:07:09

DD1 told me to put less in her lunch box as she wants to go and play and doesn't have time to eat everything. I stick to sandwich + 2 other things + a drink now. AFAIK they don't make them eat everything. I'd be cross if they did because it doesn't teach them to stop eating when they're full - which is my problem, not helped by having been brought up with a "finish everything on your plate" mentality at home and school.

She had a little slice of New York cheesecake with some raspberries in her box today. AFAIK they can take cake as long as it doesn't have nuts in. Chocolate isn't allowed, but mainly because it makes a mess.

southofthethames Thu 16-Jun-11 21:08:03

In my time growing up, school was ultra-strict about manners, homework and punctuality - and not at all about lunches or food. The teachers didn't even bother if you ate nothing at lunch - whether it was the hot meals or packed lunches. In their minds, it was up to the parents to enforce eating habits and not the teachers; it was the parents' money being wasted and not the school's. Nobody from my class has ever been known to have had food issues as adults, but conversely I do notice that some friends who have grown up with a system of being policed to eat all their school food now have problems with food and weight issues, again - that's probably due to other factors also, but remarkable how it compares with the other system.

I don't agree with strangers forcing a child to eat everything and punishing them if they don't, but that's an issue we'll have to deal with later, I expect.

My only suggestion - how about showing the lunch box to your DD in the morning before she goes to school and asking her to check that she'll eat everything and make a pact that she chooses what goes inside, but conversely she has to be responsible for eating everything too? Then it puts some control in her hands and she'll feel more like finishing everything. And explain that it is simply a matter of courtesy to the headteacher because this is a rule she has made in her school, but she can have more choice when she gets home. (of course, not suggesting that she's allowed to just choose cakes and biscuits, but give her a choice of sandwich fillings, etc, to have the final say on.) I wonder what happens when they have school dinners and they get served too much?? (as I notice often happens with cafeterias and school dining rooms)

southofthethames Thu 16-Jun-11 21:22:15

BTW - Jezabelle, I half feel like asking you what the name of your child's school is, so I (and my friends!) can avoid ever sending our children there! Sounds like their policy about food and drink is a huge breeding ground for anorexia, bulimia, obesity, kidney disease and tooth decay! That sounds awful. I would certainly complain, just from the health point of view. I think there is a difference between encouraging (even if it is quite persistent, positive encouragement with no punishment) a child to eat at least half of their lunch box instead of running off to play without eating anything, and being a food Nazi and standing guard till 99.9% of the food items are gone.

Same with the drinks - how is a child going to get something to drink if they are thirsty at some point after lunch (eg at home time)? I know there are water fountains but say if a child is far away from one, then he/she just simply won't bother - I think that's quite dangerous, and a child should be allowed to leave or finish whatever they want in their drink bottles. I have seen so many school pupils faint from warm summer weather because of dehydration and not having enough fluids in their water bottles when they need it (sometimes fainting while
on the way to the water fountain!)

kissingfrogs Thu 16-Jun-11 23:00:57

Thanks for all the replies.

One of my fears about approaching the Head is that I may be judged as "pandering" to a fussy eater. I have beaten myself up enough in the past about being the unwitting cause of dd2s minimal eating. And I have tried, really tried, to encourage proper eating until I realised that if you make it an issue it becomes an Issue with a capital I.

Dds school-dinner-history is that sticker charts, dinner log books with smiley faces etc never worked. In her previous school they said she was the 1st child they had who point-blank refused to touch a school dinner (nursey and reception had to have dinners, no packed lunch choice).

Dd2 has liked having packed lunches in her new school. At least she'll eat food from home. What I don't want to affect her is what Isitreally said:

"...any notion of food and punishment in a public and therefore humiliating way is very very damaging" .

Especially bearing in mind that dd2 already percieves herself as "different" because she wears hearing aids and talks different (HI + SLI).


nailak Thu 16-Jun-11 23:07:35

i remember when i was in year 2, the dinner ladies used to just put whatever on our trays even if we didnt ask for it, even horrible mushy peas etc euh, one day the dinner lady wouldnt said i couldnt play unless i ate my mushy peas, but there was no way i was eatin that, so i said fine ill sit here then, and then she said why did you ask for it if you didnt want it? so i told her i didnt ask, was dumped on my tray.

she took me to to the dinner server and told me to ask her why she did it, and she said "why would i do that, i wouldnt ive it if she didnt want it" which was a blatant lie....

but i was trustworthy as a child and the dinner lady must have believed me.

it was the first time i realised we could actually say no to thins we didnt want at lunch, i tried it next day, but the different server wasnt payin attention so i ot horrible over boiled carrots on my tray.....

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