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DS 9 not eating in school, talk to teacher or not?

(27 Posts)
Orange32 Mon 10-Feb-14 16:50:11

Hi DS, age 9, does not eat in school any more. It used to occur sometimes but since going back this term it is pretty much every day now. I have tried to speak to him on this numerous times and make what he requests for lunch but still no sucess. Today he finally, after being very upset, told me the reason is due to the noise at break times in the classroom, he does not do well with a lot of noise or crowds. This is upsetting him at break time and resulting in him not eating. we have discussed how he could handle this himself and in try to ignore the noise and read while eating, however should i mention this to the teacher? I am going to talk to him on other issues later this week anyway.

The drinking is another issue which is ongoing for years but if we coud sort out one we could then work on the other

Thanks in advance

columngollum Mon 10-Feb-14 16:52:19


orangedog Mon 10-Feb-14 16:52:52

Yes I would definitely speak to the teacher. Can you make some suggestions that might help.

Margetts Mon 10-Feb-14 16:56:36

Yes I would speak to the teacher.
Our school has a quiet area outside for those who don't like noise

MerryMarigold Mon 10-Feb-14 16:58:41

Do speak to teacher, orange.

My ds (8) has a similar problem, but still not sure what the problem is. With him it is more stress related, I believe. He gets stressed and loses his appetite (this runs through to when he's at home too, and takes about 1 hour to eat a small portion). I only realised how little he was eating at school when I put him onto packed lunch and saw what he was bringing back, despite me always asking what he wanted to eat. He was always slim, but now he is painfully thin (I think this has been going on since Christmas, but only been picked up by me since he went to packed lunch a couple of weeks ago). He will eat an apple OR 1 sandwich. I did speak to teacher and her solution was to give him his fruit at morning break time, and he does something quiet after lunch when he is allowed another portion of his lunch (eg. a pot of nuts). So all he has to eat at lunchtime is his sandwich. We've done this for 2 days and seems to be working. I'm sure the teacher can come up with a plan which works for him, whether it be eating in a different room with a TA or whatever...

MerryMarigold Mon 10-Feb-14 17:00:15

I also ask him to drink half his small bottle of water and give it again after school, but yes, my ds drinks v little too.

Orange32 Mon 10-Feb-14 17:08:00

Thanks all for the replies, earplugs was something i had thought of but still not sure as some of the kids can be a bit quick with their comments to DS and he already has enough trouble handling this.

MerryMarigold with DS a lot is related to stress, his stress levels can be very high for such a young child. We have a doctor's appoinment end of this week as well for a different reason so i will be bringing this up with them as well when DS is not in the room

it is very hard to come up ideas as DS can be quite disoranganised and i am not there in the room at the time to help him with these, however i will talk to his teacher on this one as well and see if he may have some sugesstions this time

Thanks again

Sleepyhead33 Mon 10-Feb-14 17:53:45

Yes, definitely speak to the teacher. the teacher needs to know that your child is not eating (or drinking?) all day whilst in their care.
Hopefully it will be fairly easily resolved with access to a quiet area.

MerryMarigold Mon 10-Feb-14 18:49:56

I know. My ds is disorganised too and that is why teacher has really taken charge of the 3 mini meals per day. If I said he had to have a fruit at break and some nuts after lunch, there is no way he would remember. She is good, though. Much as she tries to give them responsibility (eg. they now have to change their own books) she realises he just doesn't do it when I said he hadn't a new book for 2 weeks (supposed to be 3 or so per week)! So she has to remind about that as well. Poor woman!

MerryMarigold Mon 10-Feb-14 18:53:36

Personally I feel the noise MAY be a red herring. Does he eat well at home? Is it quieter at home or do you have other DC? My ds struggles at home as well. I assumed he was tired and a bit stressed, but now realise it is general loss of appetite. Let me know what doc says. Ds's pelvis is showing through his back he is so thin now. I was a bit scared when I saw that (he has had vomiting for the past day).

DeWe Mon 10-Feb-14 21:43:06

I didn't eat at school at primary. I hated it, and felt pressured to eat, which meant I found it harder to eat...
Dm eventually found that if she gave me one biscuit and a drink then I ate that. Any more and I ate nothing. I don't ever remember feeling hungry, even after I'd walked home (45 minutes walk) but was much relieved that I didn't feel so stressed about eating.

Have you tried cutting back to a small amount to see if he'd eat that.

Once at secondary, about half way through year 7 I started eating dinners, and ate fine from then on.

MerryMarigold Tue 11-Feb-14 10:26:41

That's interesting DeWe. Have you ever had an eating disorder? I really worry about ds and how he uses food. Try to take the pressure off him, but he does also need to eat. I sincerely believe he wouldn't eat anything if he had the choice. His appetite shrinks and shrinks and he gets thinner and thinner.

DeWe Tue 11-Feb-14 12:53:29

I haven't ever had an eating disorder. I just don't have a huge appetite and if I don't eat, I stop feeling hungry.

The things I find hard are:
Certain foods: bread and mashed potato are the worst-I think this was because dp were convinced that those foods were majorly important, so we had that at every meal except breakfast.
I didn't like them, but was still expected to eat them. If it had varied into rice/pasta/chips etc. then I suspect I'd be fine. Now I can't eat mashed potato ever and bread only in certain conditions.

Eating when I feel expected to finish. I hate being invited round for a meal. Don't mind eating out though. But eating at my ILs I find a nightmare. Because they all have huge appetites, so I get given too much then sneery comments if I don't finish. Even though dh usually stops them saying anything now, and often takes some of my portion, I feel the pressure. Often I will not eat there, and just make it look like I am.

Too much: Big portion just sends me into panic. I know I won't finish, so I can't start.

Drink: Sounds silly, but I can't eat certain things with a drink, but I need a drink at the end. And with certain foods I need something with more to it than just water/squash. Fizzy usually will do.

Snacking: I actually function better on snacking. But I can eat a whole meal as snacks, just a bit at a time. I can start with cheese on toast, half an hour later have a cake, and an hour after that have fruit. All snacks, but together an okay meal.

Certain things together: I tend to eat things separately. Not entirely, but I'll often eat (eg) all the meat, then the roast potatoes, then the veg (separately) in a meal. Don't comment, or I feel I can't then I struggle to eat.

Not too soon after waking: I don't have breakfast and can't eat within about 2hours of waking. Makes me feel very sick. If (rarely) I sleep during the day, the same thing is true.

Things like stress stop me eating, a small illness can have me off my food for weeks. I have to force myself to eat in this sort of situation.

Orange32 Tue 11-Feb-14 13:02:42

hi DeWe, a lot of what you mention above would relate to DS as well, he is a good earter at home but I only give him small portion any way as I would rather he stop when he is full than finshing what is on the plate. He would find the texture of some foods hard, mashed potatoes would be one for him and me also. He is good at trying new foods.

Drinking has always been an issue back from when he was a small baby, at home I can encourage him to drink but he does not seem to realise when he is thirsty which is causing the drinking issue in school etc.

Again he would rather wait a few hours before having breakfast which is fine at weekend or hols but not during the school days.

Thanks again for all the advice

MerryMarigold Tue 11-Feb-14 13:45:28

Thanks dewe. That's helpful. I bet you stay nice and slim!!! Can you give me your thoughts on how I am dealing with ds. I'd really appreciate it. I love food and have a big appetite so I find it hard to get on Ds1's wave length. In particular whether you think I am forcing too much or not enough. With hindsight, what do you think would have helped you? Did you struggle to concentrate in school or were you ok? Do you think I should take him to doctor about this, or will it increase the pressure. Is there any explanation for the lack of appetite? OP, sorry to hijack!

His eating has deteriorated - we did have repertoire of foods but this is diminishing rapidly. It actually seems to have got worse since I decided to only give him foods he likes, when he moved to Junior school in Sept (as I was aware this was already a stressful situation). Now, even of those foods (about 7 dishes), he is rejecting about 4. He won't try anything new so we can't increase the repertoire. I think this may be due to stress at school as well, but he does not talk about what's stressing him (I think he doesn't know) and it can be quite low level (eg. even teacher getting annoyed at someone else would stress him) as he is very sensitive.

It feels like a minefield how much to force and how much to let him control it all. I do what I can eg. I will give him plain pasta and a sauce in a bowl which he can dip the pasta into if he wants. I frequently ask him what he wants, or cook something different from everyone else which he likes, or leave something he won't like off his plate. I always separate out his veg, carb and meat/ fish - sometimes in a separate bowl. I never mix the food up eg. peas in rice, or carrots in spag bol. I never force him to finish but he needs to eat a decent amount (usually about half of what his 5 year old brother eats) so this can take up to an hour sometimes and is a 'you can't get down until you have eaten this much' situation.

It's such a stress for all of us. When he goes to a friend occasionally, it is so nice at the dinner table with me, dh and our other 2 kids (he never eats much/ anything at friend's but I turn a blind eye to that as it's not in my house!). School seem to think the snacking route is working there so I will keep going with that in school. Maybe at home I need to give him something when he comes in from school which is more substantial, but there is so little he does actually eat (he wouldn't eat cheese on toast). He doesn't like meat, he has gone off Tuna, gone off fish fingers. Currently his protein is eggs and baked beans and nuts (and a fish oil pill). I don't force much carbohydrate on him, as there isn't a lot of nutrition in it, so I would rather he ate the fish/ meat/ veg and he seems to get enough carbs I think. He does eat breakfast well, it is the one meal I can guarantee he will eat, but it is basically sweet stuff! Today he had 3 slices of bread with marmalade. He likes Greek yoghurt (has to be Total as even Tesco's is too runny!), honey and granola too.

Marne Tue 11-Feb-14 13:50:23

Speak to the teacher, be had this problem with dd2 for a couple years, she has ASD and is very noise sensitive, the teacher was very understanding and arranged somewhere quiet for her to eat her lunch, she now eats in the dinner hall with everyone else but took her a long time.

Marne Tue 11-Feb-14 13:53:59

I also have another dd who is a very fussy eater, for a while she would eat hardly anything, I took her to the go and he told me to feed her what ever she wants, so we fed her pizza, cheese sandwiches and blueberries for a year,never forced her to try anything else, then after a while she started to ask to try things nod we have managed to add a few items to her list of 'things she will eat' including jacket potato, turkey, fish and sausages' she still won't touch anything green, no veg, nothing in a sauce and nothing too chewed but we are slowly getting there.

Pancakeflipper Tue 11-Feb-14 13:56:54

Could they let him go to lunch 5 mins earlier? They have done that for a child at our school ( different issue but it's solved the problem), this child goes in with a friend and has started on their packed lunch before the masses appear.

DeWe Tue 11-Feb-14 14:06:42

Personally (I do this with dd1, who is very fussy) I rarely cook a different meal. However I make sure there is something they will eat (even if they're not keen) and don't put anything on their plate I know they don't eat. I encourage snacks on fruit or veg (dd1 will eat raw veg even when she won't eat cooked) and encourage trying new stuff-they can take a tiny bit and leave any they don't like. If they won't try, I will say something like "it's a bit like X" if they like X, but don't make a thing of it.
I never insist they finish-even when it's half a mouthful left, and if I think it's peculiar (eg ds likes ketchup with carrots) I let them as long as it's not totally silly (wouldn't let him put sugar on them!).

The lack of pressure works best with me. As soon as I feel pressure to eat, I eat less. If I feel I can stop at any time (being able to go and empty it straight in the bin is good because it's not sitting there staring at you) I can eat more.

And never say something's silly-dd1 hates to put things on a dirty plate-even if it's just a few crumbs. So I get her a clean plate for something different. Dh thinks this is silly, so won't do it at times and I've had to point out it really doesn't matter at all.

One thing I remember was when I was little I said I didn't like chips. Dp thought we should have some if we (rarely) got fish and chips, so I was given some, and hardly touched either fish or chips. One time they misordered the amount of chips, and so dm decided not to waste any on me. She said if i wanted any I could take them off her plate. At that meal I discovered I quite liked a few chips-but only having taken them off another plate, so in future she gave herself a little extra, and she felt I had quite a reasonable portion. And I ate my fish too.

MerryMarigold Tue 11-Feb-14 19:31:18

Thanks Dewe. He is sitting at the table right now, having eaten one sandwich at school and half an apple. He had no snack after school (didn't ask so I didn't give). He has been to a club where they run around non stop for an hour. I said he could eat after the club as I hoped it would increase his appetite. He is now sitting in front of a very small portion of chilli and rice. I took half off the plate as his Dad had served him a normal-for-an-eight-year-old sized portion so I took half off and ate it myself with him. He has had 4 mouthfuls which I fed him. I have left the room as it is too stressful to deal with him. Argggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I think I need to see the doctor. I will make an appointment tomorrow.

MerryMarigold Tue 11-Feb-14 19:33:23

I wouldn't mind so much if he didn't look like a child who is close to starvation (I am not exaggerating).

Orange32 Thu 13-Feb-14 11:20:42

Well I spke to DS's teacher yesterday and he was not aware that DS has not been eating or drinking in class and that is has gotten worse since they started back this term. He has agreed for DS to eat his lunch when they are working so the noise levels will be lower as the kids are working that stage.

yet again I had to point out that it is the social end of schooling that DS has trouble with, he has agreed to talk to 2 other teachers and all try to come up with some ideas to help DS cope as the current ideas in place work for the other kids but not DS as his anxiety and stress levels are too high. So I will check back with his teacher in 2 weeks, next week mid term, to see what they have in place so we can all discuss it. I have been saying this since he started school, some years more sucess with teachers than others

Back to doctor tomorrow so hopefully he might have some sugesstions as well

MerryMarigold, hope you get on well with doctor and get the some ideas to work with your DS

MerryMarigold Thu 13-Feb-14 11:53:52

orange, glad teacher is helping. please do keep me updated. I understand the social side totally. This is what kicked it off in Reception year for my ds1 when he was being bullied (albeit mildly but was still too much for his sensitivity levels). He also stopped sleeping properly and it was a very difficult year for us, with some small improvements in Y1. He ate much better last year (Y2) when he had a good friend (his first ever), but that friendship seems to be waning and is obviously affecting him. My ds does go to a social skills group. I'm not sure it helps a lot with making friends, but perhaps it helps him understand what kind of treatment is unacceptable ie. what bullying is and how deal with it.

I'm going to speak to the doctor without ds there as he is already so anxious about food. I'm finding the balancing act so tricky. How to deal with it, but without worrying ds more than he already is.

Orange32 Thu 13-Feb-14 12:23:55

hi MerryMarigold, your DS sounds so like DS re the sensitivity levels and in other areas you mention. A lot of other kids could brush aside the small issues but for DS it is very personal and especially the age they are getting to now. He finds bad language/insults very difficult to cope with and a lot of kids are now using these words which is just another level of stress for him.

DS is going to doctors for a different issue however he is aware that I have to speak to the doctor myself so he will leave the room so I can discuss this without him hearing.

I think DS may have had 1 or 2 sessions in some social goup earlier in this schooling but this was very vague and not of much help.

His teacher does agree it is a very lively class DS is in with some very strong personailities so really just a cummulation of too much for DS to handle in one go

sixlive Thu 13-Feb-14 13:50:06

I do think some nutrition is better than no nutrition. No reason he can't eat breakfast type food for dinner. When my DS is stressed I find he will eat carbs mainly pasta but not meat and two veg, I think we can overestimate how much protein a child needs. Have you had his iron levels tested if you are anaemic you just don't feel like eating. I went through similar issues as a child and only began to enjoy food in my mid 20s. I still hate noisy restaurants and eat best on my own.

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