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DS is taking junk food from other kids at school...

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

DS is six and in kindergarten. A few times recently he has been caught taking junk food from other kids during lunch, I guess behind their backs. We've talked about this and DS said that he's upset that they get Oreos and "bad yogurt" (this is what I call the yogurt that's more sugar and food coloring than any other ingredients) and he does not, so he takes theirs. This past week, I've made an effort to put in his lunch stuff that he really wants -- we went to the store together and picked things out -- I made him a turkey wrap that he loved, we made homemade cookies, and I caved and bought Goldfish because he really wanted them. He gets juice in his lunch, a piece of fruit or a protein smoothie (a prepared Odwalla or Naked one that he really loves, coconut), yogurt. He seems to have more than enough in his lunch because something is always left that he didn't eat.


We talk about this issue daily, and since it has happened three times the school said they could suspend him if it happens again. I have no idea what to do. They suggested taking something away at home, which is currently happening. I don't know why he doesn't understand that this is wrong. We talk about keeping our hands to ourself, what stealing is and why it is wrong, etc. He seems to understand all of this in our conversations.


A lot of his friends get the school lunches, and that's out of the question -- I've seen the lunches while I've been at school volunteering and they are really gross...cardboard like super greasy pizza, ice cream, a fruit rollup and chocolate milk was on a girl's tray. They have pizza, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, etc...so that's not an option.


post #2 of 24

Could you maybe try a Bento Box?  They're really neat.  I've whipped together bento-box like arrangements in simple pyrex dishes to get my picker-than-my-2yo-husband to eat.  Cutting food into shapes, fun things like that.  


Have they tried separating him during lunch (harsh, but might be a "wake up" call for him), or having a lunch aide sitting with him?  When I was a kid, in public school, there were lunch and recess aides that helped us with our food.. open yogurt, open juice boxes, etc., and they would sit with kids who had trouble eating or were too distracted to focus on eating.

post #3 of 24
Would you maybe be willing to let him have school lunch or bring junk food on Fridays? Maybe if he knew that there was one day a week he could have pizza and oreos he'd be more receptive to the healthy food throughout the week. (I know that's how I do it. You know, with myself, not my kids)
post #4 of 24
Originally Posted by Adaline'sMama View Post

Would you maybe be willing to let him have school lunch or bring junk food on Fridays? Maybe if he knew that there was one day a week he could have pizza and oreos he'd be more receptive to the healthy food throughout the week. (I know that's how I do it. You know, with myself, not my kids)

I think this is a great idea.  Blanket bans on food just make it more appealing.  I was the kid with the healthy lunches and to this day I still remember that my mom never bought me Koala Yummies and my 2 best friends always had them.   I honestly think that letting him have junk once a week is going to be less harmful than him getting suspended and being known as the food thief.


post #5 of 24
I personally would rather give my child one oreo cookie than one calorie laden odwalla bar. Especially if she had something from each food group already and was eating those things. The things you list sound calorie laden enough to meet a child's needs for fueling his body. Fresh fruit instead of juice might make you feel a little less worried about the sugar and calorie intake from a yogurt he chooses.

I ran into a lot of boredom with lunches and it was frustrating. My dd was given food by friends who had a lot of treats and would then not eat her lunch. I let her have more choice, used cookie cutters to make the food more appealing, and eventually went to a once a week treat when she ate her healthy food most of the week. It is frustrating but when the other choice is for your child to eat only junk they sneak or steal from friends it is the lesser of two evils imo.

When my dd moved to a school with a cafeteria I was really just so relieved because I didn't have to battle anymore. We have a decent lunch program and my dd hates sweet drinks so my stress level is way down. The new food regulations might kick in in your district soon and make it a reasonable choice. I suggest calling the district to press them on healthier lunches. It really is so nice not to have the stress of this hanging over me daily.
post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

I have talked to the school about their lunch menu and they don't seem to think anything is wrong with it.


I get him juice with no sugar added, they're small sized boxes and he takes a bottle of water sometimes too. He does get fresh fruit too, daily (and veggies).


I don't want the other kids to dislike him either, I really worry about that. He's a very kind and somewhat sensitive kid. He's really not a bad kid, but this needs to be resolved...


The one day of junk a week thing sounds like it may be a good compromise. I've seen the bento boxes too, they're super cute and DS is really into cute things.


Thanks for the replys, I'm very stressed over this.


post #7 of 24
This issue did get better in our house. Now, at 10, my daughter is proud to have the healthiest lunch in the cafeteria.

You might try to just find the healthiest, or least unhealthy, options of some of these foods you can find and give him a bit of a treat in each lunch for a while. Like even if it's junk food but organic, at least it doesn't have fake food colors and GMOs. Maybe just one thing like that in each lunch, so he doesn't feel so different, but the overall lunch as a whole is still relatively OK.
post #8 of 24

I think sometimes it is ok to take a step back and consider how much of our rules really need to be 100%. I think the one day a week option is great. My Dd loves this horrid fake cheese food thing, I call plastic cheese. I don't buy it. Her best friend doesn't like it, but the best friend gets her mom to pack the stuff, so they can trade lunches! Well, when I found out I had a good laugh with the other mom. And we just continue doing that. My DD gets 99% healthy food, and if she really wants an oreo, she gets one about once a month. I think that once a month gives her the freedom to try what others have, and its still a special thing, but that fills up her curiosity. 

post #9 of 24

I think you're handling this well, OP but I think the idea of a "junk day" would be great.  You might also teach him about trading things in his lunch instead of swiping it.  If he has something he wants, maybe he can trade for that Oreo.

post #10 of 24
What about compromising just a bit? Something like Newman's Own oreos and naturally-colored yogurt packs? Still high in sugar & processed but at least a little less of the 'bad' stuff & might make him feel less left out? At least as a transition, and then maybe you can swap out for better/homemade stuff little by little down the line.

It also strikes me that he seems to be getting a lot of sugar in the lunch you are providing him -- juice, fruit, smoothie, yogurt -- the juice in particular could especially affect his blood sugar. I mention this only because sometimes having sugar makes you crave more sugar... so maybe the more he has, the more he wants/needs... IDK, I could be totally off-base, but if he's going to be getting that much sugar anyway, might as well replace the juice with oreos and the smoothie with fruit roll-ups or whatever it is he wants, and then focus on making the rest of his lunch low sugar (sandwich, crackers with nut/seed butter, cheese stick, etc.)

I also think it's ridiculous that they could suspend him for this... seems like they could be taking some much less drastic measures, he's only in K!!
post #11 of 24

we did not have junk days with dd. we had 'proportion' days. did you eat healthy enough and amount enough to get some junk. we helped dd with this from 4 to 7 years old and by 8 she was self regulating herself. my dd is a 'sugar' maniac. so once a month oreo would never work for her. once a week did. she is like her dad. they both love dessert stuff and since she was little she has been getting something small almost everyday if she has eaten well. we dont do much sugar in our diet - whether natural or not, so there is usually space for us to fit something in. we dont drink juice or sweet yoghurt. 


my fear was forbidden fruit. 


and i also second crunchy's concern about too much sugar already. i know we think of fruit juice as being healthy but really it isnt. 


plus you also have to understand the peer pressure during lunch. he seems to be doing well there. 


as another mama pointed out you also have to figure out the battle. this is just the beginning. you will see this in so many other things. 

post #12 of 24

We teach kids to share, to not eat a coveted food in front of another without offering them some. So your ds might not understand how his taking those things is more wrong than their not sharing. Or it is just too darn tempting! I'd ease up on food rules while at school for the sake of the situation.

post #13 of 24
I was thinking about this today again and had another idea...

What if you sent a box of treats to school with him? Maybe something he can keep in his cubby? Then when he feels compelled to take something, he can take something from his own box.

If the school won't work with you on that, maybe even having a box at home would help -- and he could choose something to add to his lunch himself each morning.
post #14 of 24

I was going to suggest what a pp mentioned and suggest to him that he ask his friends about trading.  That's the norm at dd's school.  You've got something I want?  Well, I've got something you want - let's trade!  Or maybe just trade halves... or whatever. 


post #15 of 24

We do "dessert days" so each child can choose which days they eat desserts (2 during the week, and one on the weekend).  There are of course exceptions, but in general we try to follow this.   That gives them the freedom to have dessert when they really want it, not just when it's being served, and not everyday.  They learn willpower and about making choices.  I also pop in something sweet as an extra once or twice a week into lunchboxes (a couple of hershey kisses or a cookie, etc.) that doesn't count towards that, but they don't ask for it or expect it.


My DS (8) now makes his lunch menu for the week.  He chooses the veggies, fruits, sandwiches/main meals & snacks for the week.  We spend a lot of time taking about what foods are healthy, which ones are not & why, "growing foods" vs. "extras", and which foods are in which foods groups & eating a balanced diet.  I have him read food labels and serving sizes (and sugar content), and serve his own portions so he's getting to know reasonable serving sizes for things like ice cream & cookies and how much sugar they contain compared to other foods.


I agree with letting him choose a day each week to buy lunch.  It may not be the healthiest, but at least it might help him feel that it's not forbidden fruit.  On the day my DS has pizza lunch at school, I just make sure to pack an extra healthy snack.


It seems pretty harsh to suspend a kindergardner.  They don't have a better solution than that?

post #16 of 24
Originally Posted by MAMom View Post

"growing foods" vs. "extras"

OT a bit, but I love this terminology, I was having trouble with what to call the "extras," that's perfect!
post #17 of 24

pariah i also want you to point out the peer pressure here.


its more a battle of philosophies and the key is trying to find out what works for your son and you as a family. both of you will have to give in some.


you probably might be scared that he will continue to choose bad and all the hard work of all these years of a well balanced diet will go to the dogs.


i think you need to figure out something for your family - whatever it is - if it is Newman's Os or homemade cookies or whatever works for both of you.


the thing is making your ds's lunch look fun (not veggies shaped as cartoons but more like cookies that other kids might want to share some) and they will covert his cookies.


there is an arbitrary exchange of food at the lunch table. kids share. if you can send something with your son that is unique to your family (of course some kind of sugar) that he can share some with his friends the peer pressure off of him will probably come down.


there are two things happening here. forbidden foods and peer pressure.


as he gets older he will get a better hang of what is good nutrition and he will eat accordingly.

post #18 of 24

Some of what you are sending isn't any healthier than a storebought cookie, or a "bad yogurt".  


Clearly, when you say "bad yogurt", he's caught on that it's really yummy, and you are trying to trick him.  Maybe change how you word things.  Instead of "Bad yogurt", tell him the truth, It's sugary yogurt with food dyes.  So he doesn't think you are just being mean and controlling and trying to ruin his life.  (or wait... the mean and controlling life ruining starts in 6th grade)


I'd give him the occasional treat, cut back on the breakfast bars and Juice (they are not really healthy) and make his lunch more appealing to him.  If he continues to steal treats from the other kids, I'd make sure he had two consequences... he'd have to sit alone at lunch, and he would not be getting more treats in HIS lunch box until you decided he had learned a lesson about stealing treats.


I've been making lunches for kids for over 30 years.  Most are healthy, some notsomuch.  But, no matter what, every day, there is always a treat on the plate.... it might be pudding, or a cookie, or cheetos.  The treat is not tied to the other food they eat, but they only get that one small portion and no seconds of the treat.  The kids all know "it's only a treat, it's not the meal". 


Here is a photo stream of people who have WAY more time and creativity than I have.  But, it's inspiring.  Maybe you and your son can start googling lunch box ideas from the pros, and he can pick some things he likes, and you guys can discuss them.  




http://foodie-isms.com/?p=3079  <--these are the easiest lunchboxes I have found so far.  I have a laptop also, but, it's harder to work with than these.


http://www.dailygrommet.com/products/292-vapur-flexible-water-bottle-collapsible-water-bottle   These are apparently super cool for the under 3rd grade group, and they are only for water, but you look so awesome drinking from these, that nobody cares what's in it.  


You might just need to Jazz up his lunch box a little, to cut down on the jealousy.  But, you also need to deal with the stealing... if he thinks stealing is a way to get a baggie of oreos from mom, then he won't stop.  Separate the two issues.  Perhaps he could remember who he stole from, and give them one of his treats for a few days, and when he's made amends for stealing, he can start having his treats for himself.  


If I were the parent who's child had part of her lunch stolen, the kid who stole would not be my favorite kid.  I'd be telling my child not to sit near him anymore, and if he sits by her, she should get up and move.  Sometimes bad reputations are hard to get rid of.  We still joke about some kids in my daughter's school and that was 15 years ago.  "Remember when Jake jumped in the canal?"  "Remember when Tyler threw a full soda can at the gym teacher?".  Obviously those kids have grown up and don't do those things, but we still remember them. 


post #19 of 24

I struggled with this too when DS1 started school. I'm super careful about what I feed my kids, but I had to learn to relax, because frankly, it simply isn't realistic to expect DS to eat the same way he does at home when surrounded by all this crappy food kids take to school. I mean, I could force him to, but I tend to agree with some previous posters that the forbidden fruit is also the most appealing. Our solution is to compromise: I allow him to eat the nuggets at school on Fridays, and pack ''treats'' for him in his lunch bag for the rest of the week. ''Treats'' are everything we wouldn't normally eat at home: prepackaged cookies, granola bars, sugary yogurt, juice boxes. He'll eat those, but he also eats the quinoa, fish, cauliflower.... whatever else... that's part of his lunch, so I call it good! I'm fine with him eating foods that are not as healthy as long as his main diet remains high-quality, and so far it has worked great.


OP, if your DS eats well at home, I'd let him have what he wants at school (in moderation of course).


And from a nutritional standpoint, Goldfish crackers are not bad (high in sodium and low in fiber unless you get the whole-grain version, but still pretty clean in terms of ingredients), definitely a lot better than most prepackaged snacks out there. Probably not worth the fight, IMO.

post #20 of 24

Cute nutritious foods might help too.  I bought egg molds and now my kids will ask for cute eggs and eat 2-3 verses the half of one they used to eat at lunch.

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