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Being forced to eat at school - Yr3

(8 Posts)
ThingOne Tue 30-Sep-08 22:04:25

My sister's little girl has just started Year 3 and is having school meals. Somebody - a TA? - checks their plates after they have finished eating and if he thinks the plates are clean enough he send them back to the table to eat it all up! She (and I) can't believe that this kind of behaviour is happening in this day and age. I really didn't think this kind of thing went on any more. She and I both have horrific memories of being made to eat badly cooked food we couldn't bear as children.

She has appointment with the head on Friday to find out if TA is acting off own bat, wrongly applying some school policy, or - worst of all - it is actually school policy. She's been a primary school teacher for 20 years and has never come across it before.

Is there any research about why force feeding children is a bad idea? Is it covered under the human rights act? We always use the adage "children won't starve themselves" but what is the basis for this? Is forcing children to eat a
trigger for later eating disorders?

I'd be very grateful if anyone could give her some meat to back up her eloquent and reasoned arguments.

juuule Tue 30-Sep-08 22:25:32

I did end up going into school to discuss this type of thing when my dd was insisting on taking a packed lunch consisting of just a bottle of water and a biscuit due to the dinner lady (midday supervisor?) checking their lunches and telling them off for not eating everything in their lunchbox. She was being pushed to eat everything in the lunchbox whether she was hungry or not.

I do think that it's a bit of a difficult situation for the school in that some parents ask the supervisors to ensure that their children have eaten all their dinner.

Obviously my dd wasn't having a school dinner but similar situation. My dd was left to eat her lunch more or less in peace after I'd been in.

Creole Wed 01-Oct-08 15:04:21

I would check the facts first before going in all guns blazing. Children do distort things...

However, I would be happy if my school would "encourage" my child to eat all his food - he is a very poor eater.

moosemama Thu 02-Oct-08 14:03:21

My DS1 has just started school dinners for the first time this September having brought packed lunches in reception and Y1.

We are having the same problem. We are veggie, which shouldn't be a problem as there are plenty of options on the school menu and DS1 is generally a good eater (there are only three things he refuses to eat, peas, sweetcorn and potatoes). Its not that he just complains and says he doesn't like these things, they actually make him retch. He is 6 years old, we make sure he has a well balanced diet and have always encouraged him to try new foods but he is being forced to eat the foods he that make him heave on almost a daily basis.

He was so excited about having school dinners as it meant he would be able to sit with his best friend, but now he is asking to go back to packed lunches. (It would be easier for me if he could stay on dinners as I am expecting DC3 in January and could do without making the lunches.)

DS2, who is in reception, has also started school lunches and while we are not having problems with him being made to eat things he doesn't like (he'll eat absolutely anything), the portion sizes are too much for him and he is coming home upset every day that he hasn't had a pudding because he was too full. He has only had one pudding since they started school and is feeling very left out. As a result he now wants to take sandwiches too! I think they might be assuming he is a big eater because he is quite stocky and therefore giving him larger portions, but in actual fact he eats less than his smaller, decidedly skinny brother.

I too was wondering how to approach these issues, do I mention to their teachers or do I just cave in and start making packed lunches again? Both boys are starting to dread lunchtimes and I don't want this to affect their relationship with food.

IMO I don't see why the dinner ladies need take it upon themselves to teach my little boys how/what to eat and find it a little insulting to think that they obviously assume we don't bother at home.

I seem to swing from thinking I am overreacting back to being cross that that they are upsetting my boys and taking it upon themselves to carry out a role which is really something that I feel should be dealt with at home.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 02-Oct-08 14:06:30

Dificult isn't it? Because if my dd were allowed to, she would skip her main course and go straight to her pudding and then out to play. I'm rather glad that the dinner ladies check she has eaten enough meat and veg before she goes onto crumble and custard.

Tamarto Thu 02-Oct-08 14:13:24

I had the opposite problem, at DS's school they let the kids do more or less what they like. So some days he'd come home having only eaten mince, £1.65 for a spoonfull of mince. angry

Also there are days they refuse to go school dinners because they don't get a big enough portion and end up still hungry.

moosemama Thu 02-Oct-08 17:31:53

I understand the need for them to supervise to a certain extent. Obviously if there is a child that never eats anything or always leaves the main meal and only eats the dessert it needs to be addressed. I don't think that they have to 'police' every mouthful though. They literally stand over DS1 and check if he is eating 'all' of his meal and that's after they've told him what vegetables he has to have despite it supposed to be the child's choice.

Actually, I am really surprised that they have the time as we are constantly told they are short staffed when it comes to lunchtime supervisors. It did cross my mind that it might just be one of them that has decided to make him her pet project.

I wonder if they look at DS1 and think he is a skinny little thing because he doesn't eat and assume that DS2 would like extra portions because he's stocky. Actually, DS1 is a gannet but never sits still and burns it all off really easily (just like his Dad) and poor old DS2 eats a lot less a lot more slowly, he doesn't carry any extra weight but is broad shouldered and more stockily built - I have to give him much smaller portions than his brother at home as he simply can't get through a big meal. (I feel so sorry for him never getting to eat a pudding despite the fact that he always finishes his main course - it just doesn't seem fair.)

ThingOne Fri 03-Oct-08 13:37:46

Ah Creole, can I draw your attention to the last line of my post. As a teacher of 20 years standing she's very aware that children don't always tell the whole story and has checked several times with her daughter and some of the other parents. And it's quite possible to go in and raise something you are cross about without "all gun blazing".

She's hoping the problem is that this bloke doesn't understand the difference between encouraging children to eat and making them eat things they dislike. She would be happy with the former and would certainly support children being encouraged to eat at least a bit of main meal before turning to crumble.

As an adult I reserve the right just to have crumble for my own meals, however.

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