Packing a school lunch that will please both your kid and his teacher is difficult, but a tip from two specialists who treat kids’ with feeding issues might make it easier for everyone involved.
Clinicians Katja Rowell and Jenny McGlothlin appeared on New York Times parenting blog, Motherlode, this week with an interesting idea about how to ensure your kids are eating what you want them to eat for lunch. The concept is simple: your child is in charge of what goes into their bodies and no teacher has the right to tell a child what to eat or how much. To enforce this, you send your child to school with a card in their lunch. Written on the card is this message:
“Dear [teacher’s name], Please don’t ask [child’s name] to eat more or different foods than she/he wants. Please let her eat as much as she wants of any of the foods I pack, in any order, even if she eats nothing or only dessert. If you have any questions or concerns, please call me at [phone number]. Thank you.”
If a teacher interferes with their meal time, they hand them the card. As Rowell and McGlothlin put it, “It can be hard for a child to stand up to an authority figure, but he might be able to hand over a note from a parent.”
The idea behind the card is to put an end to the recent trend of school authorities inserting their opinions on what is best for each child to eat. A few months ago, a preschooler had Oreos confiscated from her lunch because they’re too sugary. Prior to that, a different teacher confiscated a child’s “unhealthy” homemade lunch and made her eat cafeteria chicken nuggets instead. It’s not unusual for teachers to remove items from lunches, or even send home notes telling parents what they are and are not allowed to bring.
In the case of a peanut allergy or other dangers to kids, this makes sense. But when the interference is based solely on the teacher’s opinion of what a kid should be eating, that’s a problem. Parents have the right to decide what their kids eat for lunch, and save for abusive situations or instances where a child is violating an official school policy, teachers shouldn’t interfere.
When you’re the parent of a young child, the world is constantly scrutinizing your choices. Whether you feed your kids McDonald’s twice a week or try to keep your family strictly Paleo, you can almost guarantee someone will have a strong opinion about it. Opinions are one thing, but asserting your will over a parent’s is something else entirely, and it means a conversation needs to take place. A polite, helpful card that speaks up for your choices in situations where you’re not present sounds like a brilliant way to open up a dialogue.