Our children being ‘picky eaters’ can be one of the most frustrating parts of the parenting experience. I have personal experience of this and guest author, Caroline Kastner, offers some helpful tips to manage this behaviour.
How to Pack a School Lunch Box that Kids Will Eat & How to Deal with a Child’s Refusal to Eat
Millions of children right across the world attend school each day. However, did you know that a large percentage of children don’t actually eat their lunch while they’re at school? It’s true! When a child doesn’t eat their lunch it can be extremely frustrating for the parent. You may have tried a lot of different things in order to get your children to eat their lunch, but it still doesn’t work. If you’re in this predicament, then here are some top tips that you can use to pack a school lunch that children will eat and how to deal with a child’s refusal to eat if nothing else works.
1. Involve them in the planning and packing process.
When children are given a chance to help plan and pack their lunch it can be a positive step in getting them to eat it as well. Children who have a say in what they want to eat for their lunch have a higher chance of eating the meal that’s provided. This gives them a sense of control. While you don’t want to spend hours choosing a meal for their lunch, it’s a good idea to give them three options to choose from. This could be from a banana, pear or apple to a sandwich, wrap, or leftovers from last night.
When they’ve decided on what they would like for their school lunch, you can then move on to preparing the lunch box, like a Yumbox. Let them help you with this. Allow them to rearrange their lunch box to how they like it. If they have control over assembling it, it will give them a sense of pride and will also boost their confidence as well.
2. Try separating their food.
When a child is given mixed foods all the time it can cause them to become bored with their food. When this occurs they’ll be less likely to eat it. Instead, it’s a good idea to ask whether they would like their food separated. Instead of a banana sandwich, place the banana on the side for example. Separating their food and giving them something new to see and eat in their lunch boxes will help to give them more motivation and incentive to eat the food that’s given to them. This may take time to get used to but it will pay off.
3. Check how easy it is for them to open their lunchbox.
If your child is new at opening lunchboxes, it’s a good idea to check whether they can actually open it. Some children don’t eat their lunch at school because they simply can’t open the lunch box. While it seems strange, not all children have the dexterity to be able to open a lunch box like other children. It’s a good idea to practice with your child at home on opening any sealable bags and lunchboxes to make sure they can open them. It may be something as simple as this.
How to Deal With a Child’s Refusal to Eat
If you’ve tried all these tips and your child still won’t eat, then it may be time to look further into why they may be refusing to eat. It’s important to have an open dialogue when talking about their refusal to eat specific foods. There are many reasons why a child may not eat. These include:
- They don’t like the food that’s being given to them.
- They don’t like the combination of food.
- They have a self-esteem problem where they feel they want to be thin, thus shouldn’t be eating.
- They have an underlying eating disorder which may need professional help.
- They may have a fear of particular foods especially if they’ve had a bad experience with them. For example, choking or severe sickness after eating a food.
- They feel sick every time they go to eat something.
If you suspect your child has an underlying issue, it’s important to address it with professional help. A professional psychologist who understands eating issues can help your child work through any problems they may be having. They may also help to encourage healthy eating patterns and teach you how to help your child through this time.
Along with getting psychological help if you think it’s necessary, it’s also important to reduce the pressure on your child to eat. The more you force your child to eat, the more they’ll hate the look of food. Remember there is a reason for their refusal to eat, you don’t want them to feel stress every time the lunch bell rings at school.
When it comes to getting your children to eat their lunch, it’s all about getting them to help in the preparing process and making sure they can access their food. If you’ve covered all of this and are still having issues, then it may be time to get more professional help. So, is your child eating their lunch at school?
Caroline Kastner is a child activist and mother of 3. She has contributed to Active Baby in the past and works on raising money for different child charities. She has a loving husband and loves to blog about her experiences. She enjoys the beach and walks her dogs with her family in her spare time.
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).