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Year 1 DS - anxiety at lunch

(13 Posts)
PitstopPetunia Tue 22-Oct-13 20:55:21


My DS (aged 5) is getting more and more anxious about lunchtimes. He says he is "scared" of the juniors who arrive in the lunch hall about 10 minutes after his class (by the sounds of it DS sits there clock-watching and dreading their arrival).

From what I can gather it's not so much the kids themselves that he is afraid of but the noise that they make!

I have spoken to his teacher who has spoken to DS, advised the lunch time staff who have been keeping an eye on him and she has also arranged for him to eat in a separate room on a couple of occasions.

DS is still getting agitated (crying at bedtime and anxious when it's time to leave for school) and has been begging me to let him have a packed lunch every day (he has it one day a week at the moment). If he has a packed lunch he says he can wolf it down and then leave the school hall sooner. He says he likes the hot meals but can't eat them quickly so his friends all finish before him. Teacher says he is never left on his own.

I am not sure what to do or how best to help him. I would prefer him to have the hot meal but I don't want his anxiety to build and build. Is it best to cave in this instance ?

Any experience/thoughts/advice appreciated (either about helping him deal with his anxiety or my packed lunch dilemma). He seems happy and relaxed about all other aspects of school (apart from "too much singing" apparently!).


idril Tue 22-Oct-13 21:08:05

I would give him a packed lunch without a second thought.

He can always switch to school dinners when he gets a bit more used to it.

IvanaCake Tue 22-Oct-13 21:20:11

I would also give him a packed lunch.

Notcontent Tue 22-Oct-13 22:09:47

I think a lot of children find lunch at school stressful. It's noisy, as you say, and there is pressure to eat quickly. My dd, now year 3, is ok with it now but found it difficult in reception and year 1.

I agree that you should let him take a packed lunch. It gives children a greater sense of control.

Periwinkle007 Tue 22-Oct-13 22:38:39

lunchtimes are a difficult time for young kids. I would go with the packed lunch and see if he wants to try hot lunches again at some point in the future.

Dysgu Tue 22-Oct-13 23:12:51

I would send him in with a packed lunch every day. As he gets older he will get more used to it and you can then move him back to school dinners if you prefer.

My DD cried EVERY day for the first month of Reception at going into the hall for lunch. The reception teachers eat lunch with their classes for the first half term and they had to make alternate arrangements for DD1, gradually getting her into the hall for an extra minute or so at a time. She was terrified, it turned out, of the fire alarm going and had reasoned that the most likely time/place was the kitchen at lunch time.

She is now in Y2 - she is still not a fan of lunch times and the hall but does not complain. She gobbles down as much food as she can in the time she can cope with and then gets out! Luckily she is in a school where they do not check lunch boxes and I have never made a fuss of sandwiches coming home uneaten (she will often eat them when she gets home!)

As a primary school teacher - I know that the dinner hall can get very noisy and seem excessively so to nervous children.

Dysgu Tue 22-Oct-13 23:13:20

Oh and DD1 even requests school dinners on occasion now!

MidniteScribbler Tue 22-Oct-13 23:56:10

Just give him a packed lunch. Children don't need a hot meal at lunchtime.

hellymelly Wed 23-Oct-13 00:05:48

Cave in and go with whatever makes him most comfortable. Lunchtimes are really common anxiety triggers for reception and year one. Even now she has started year two my 6 year old still has a packed lunch as then she can sit with a friend, and that helps her not get too stressed. My older dd was 7 before she relaxed a bit about lunchtimes. It is the noise, the eating habits of other children (mine don't eat meat so dreaded meat getting near or on their food), and the lack of choice of a companion. (Their school insists they sit boy-girl-boy-girl). Year one can be a big shift from reception and a lot of children find it quite hard emotionally, so anything that eases anxiety is the way to go.

PitstopPetunia Wed 23-Oct-13 13:51:00

Thanks everyone.

It's really great to get an outside perspective and to hear that he's not the only one to find the lunch hall/lunch time difficult. It seems there is a unanimous vote for packed lunches - maybe I should have posted in AIBU!

I will start thinking about packed lunch options as I am the world's least creative/organised packed lunch maker so the thought of providing 5 packed lunches a week seems a bit daunting (but totally do-able if it helps him to feel in control and avoid the anxiety-triggers).


WipsGlitter Wed 23-Oct-13 13:54:06

Don't over think the packed lunch! DS gets the same thing every day - sandwich (ham), fruit, drink, and a treat somedays. I hate making them so don't even entertain the idea of being 'creative'!!

steppemum Wed 23-Oct-13 14:04:01

just let him have a packed lunch.
He is telling you that is something he can cope with and hot dinners isn't. It is great that actually he has a solution to the problem. I would praise him for working out a solution and go with it until he feels ready.

Mine have the same lunch every day. The occasionally ask for different sandwiches, and the fruit varies a bit. But ds is now Y6 and I have found that giving them something they like that works is the best way.

ours are
-sandwich - ham/cheese, occasionally tuna mayo
-small box with fruit (I never send in whole apples etc, they don't get eaten, tends to be cherry toms, cucumber, grapes, peeled satsuma)
-cheese string
-fruit pot in juice
-water to drink

Amy106 Wed 23-Oct-13 23:28:54

One more vote for a packed lunch every day. Have him help make the lunch and help pack it too. The more control he feels over the lunch stress, the less stressful it may become. And talk to him about things he can do if it gets too noisy for him. Arm him with coping strategies and don't worry about hot lunches until later.

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