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Peer Pressure and Bringing Lunch to School

My daughter has started a new problem with the lunches I pack for each day. She barely touches them. Apparently she’s afraid people will laugh at what she brings.

bag lunch

Here’s the thing, though. No one has.

She has decided on her own that the foods I pack will be laughed at. You see, she’s the only kid, or so she says, who gets fresh vegetables in her lunch.

Old favorites are going ignored. She wouldn’t touch her pasta salad, even though I threw black olives in to attract her attention. All she wants to bring is the canned soups and such I give her if I’m out of time to make something healthy.

And I’ve long been resigned to the fact that this girl who loves my homemade bread will never, ever eat a sandwich. Not even at home, so at least that’s consistent.

The one relief for this year is that she appears to be inventing the peer pressure. She admits to being worried about what the other kids will think of what she’s eating, but also admits that no one has ever said a word to her about it.

I ask her about what the other kids are eating, and she rarely knows. Except for the day a classmate shared fruit snacks with my daughter because my daughter spilled her snack.

This is a tricky situation, but I am determined to use it as a lesson in ignoring peer pressure. Better now when the problem is a matter of her perception, rather than actual teasing, I hope.

I’m determined to find healthy foods that she will eat at school. Sure it’s easy to give in and feed her the canned stuff, but ugh! I don’t like to. I want to keep her eating habits healthy, not lazy.

I’m going to have to experiment on her at home and figure out what she will eat. If it’s a big enough favorite I know she will eat it despite what her friends say. She did the day her friend told her that her pesto chicken looked gross, after all. She loves pesto chicken well enough to not care what others think.

At this age, I figure not giving up is the key. She just won’t take to rational arguments such as “you love it at home” or “if no one has said anything, it’s not a problem.” Six year olds aren’t always the most rational of creatures, after all.

But you can wear down their resistance and show them ways to cope with their problems. Hopefully I can get it to take before the next problem comes up.

Do your kids face peer pressure in bringing lunch to school? How do you cope?

8 Responses to Peer Pressure and Bringing Lunch to School

  1. This is my first year of packing lunches for my son and its just a struggle to get him to eat anything! He does eat sandwiches very well. I also pack fresh fruits and veggies the few he eats. I think you have the right idea, just pack what you consider healthy and she likes, and well the other kids with their fruit roll ups and repackaged lunchables can look the other way. I mean jeez.. I’m so not ready for this! Is it wrong I kinda wish he’d look at what others are eating to get ideas of what he’ll eat too? lol

  2. So far, not yet. We’ve been very good about explaining to Tyler (6) and Kora (5) that how they feel is affected by how well they’ve slept and what they put into their bodies.

    Junk food and fast food means feeling grumpy and sad.
    Sugar and candy all day long means feeling too excited to think and not listening to the teachers.

    Healthy stuff– like homemade dinner and veggies and fruits– they’re the things that make you grow taller, run faster, and think smarter.

    Kid terms… and it seems like so far it’s working. Or else they’re dumping their lunch at school and eating off of their friend’s stuff. And in that case… We’re going to have to brawl. *wink*

  3. I don’t have kids in school so don’t have any insight there, but I vividly recall a lot of fresh fruit and veggies getting dumped when I was a kid. In fact, the teachers’ aides at my elementary school went through the trash one day after lunch and laid out all the untouched fresh food on a table (after mopping it up a bit). People thought they were setting up for some event!

  4. It is tricky, you want your kids to eat healthy foods, but no one wants to stand out much – even at the age of six.

    You may have to find some work arounds – if she won’t eat your homemade bread, find a good healthy store brand to use for school lunches. Ask her what looks good that the other kids bring and see if you can come up with healthier, homemade versions of those foods. (In the end, it may turn out to be a positive in that she’ll be willing to try new some new foods!) You could also skip the vegies at school and have those as an afternoon snack at home.

    Maybe you can encourage her to be willing to stand out a little bit (and resist the peer pressure) by only having to adjust a part of her lunch instead of the whole thing. Maybe if part of her lunch is more similar to the other kids or if her lunch box or bag is more similar to the other kids, the rest of the food won’t be an issue.

    Also, it is possible that once she becomes more comfortable at school, the food won’t be an issue. It is sometimes easier to focus on something like food rather than focusing on bigger issues like starting a new school year, etc.

    Good luck!

  5. She is getting better in some ways. She won’t eat any sandwiches still, but rolls are fine. Always have been. She’s just funny that way, but at least it’s consistent with her behavior at home.

    But the other day she had some leftover chicken pot pie for lunch, and one of the kids commented that it looked like vomit. Kids are so charming that way. She didn’t care and ate it anyway because we’d had it for dinner the night before, and she knew she loved it.

    I’ve used that as a jumping off point to help her understand that what others say about her food doesn’t matter. It’s what she wants to eat.

  6. Since my daughter is only in preschool and I work there I know what she is eating. Processed foods (ie lunchables fruit roll ups) are frowned upon and not really allowed at the school. We’ve sent home letters with the parents as to what is allowed and fresh fruit and veggies are top of the list. Most of the kids want that and don’t want the pre-packaged, processed foods. I just started using a great cook book that so far has worked. True I’ve only done two things in it but it’s a start, lol.

  7. I laughed all the way through your entry! Please don’t take it the wrong way, I have been in your shoes for the last three years since our daughter started school. It is so hard to help them eat right AND try not to be the target of way-too-early taunting.
    Our daughter had to switch schools this year and we were horrified by comments the staff and teachers had to say about her lunches. We have heard everything from laughter to ‘I certainly wouldn’t eat that or expect my child to’! All of her new classmates taunt her to bring candy, cookies, etc….she’s the only one in her class without Doritos or cookies daily.
    All we can do is tell her that everyone is evolving, just a few years ago no one around us would recycle-and now she has friends who recycle just from watching us. We tell her that eating right might help those kids not be so judgemental! 😉 Kidding, we just tell her they might not have any good role models for healthy eating, maybe she can help with that. What else can you say?

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