My Son Forgot His Lunch Today - Was I Too Harsh?

Updated on September 05, 2013
T.T. asks from Baltimore, MD
72 answers

My son is nearly seven and about to start first grade. We've been talking a lot about how he has to start being more responsible for himself. An ongoing issue is when we are trying to get out the door, he needs to start making sure he has what he needs for the day instead of having me either constantly reminding him or packing it in the car for him myself.

This morning, I asked him to make sure he brought his backpack, which had his lunch, into the car when we left for his gymnastics camp. The camp is about a 25 minute drive from our home, and it goes from 9 AM to 3 PM. When we arrived at the camp, of course, it turned out that he had left his backpack at home. I'd had plans to be out of the house all day, and it wasn't practical for me to go back home to fetch his backpack for him. I would have hit traffic on the way back, and it would have easily been at least an hour out of my day dealing with this. I had an extra water bottle in the car that I was able to leave with him, but I told him that I was very sorry that he'd have to do without lunch that day. He said he understood. He'd had a pretty big breakfast right before we left and we were going to a picnic right after the camp. On the three previous days of the camp, all he'd eaten of his lunch was an apple and a handful of crackers out of all the stuff we'd packed. He never seemed that hungry during the day, so I wasn't that concerned about him starving today.

I mentioned to the lady at the front desk of the camp that my son had forgotten his lunch that day. She asked me, "Are you going to go home and bring it back for him?" I said, no, but hopefully this will help him to remember tomorrow. I could see by her face that she was horrified. I later learned this lady gave my son some string cheese because she "felt so bad." I also had a friend who ended up picking her kids up early from the camp today who just left her children's uneaten lunches for my boy.

My question is, was I too harsh to expect my son to deal with the consequences of forgetting his lunch? Should I have gone back home and brought his lunch to him? They have vending machines at this camp, but I felt like giving him money to get food from them was rewarding his carelessness. How else could I have reinforced this lesson to him?

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So What Happened?

Wow, lots of feedback. Thanks for taking the time to respond, everyone.

I'm curious, for everyone who thinks that I was too harsh "for his age," at what age would this have been an appropriate way to deal with this? I will say there hasn't been a single time when I have told him that he is responsible for his backpack through the whole of the past school year and his various camps this summer that he has remembered it. Not once. I have had to doublecheck every single time only to find that he has forgotten it, and yes, sometimes it's when we are at the end of the cul de sac. I have delivered his lunch to school at least once in the past year. I feel he has been rescued every single time, so he hasn't learned, and we had talked a lot the night before about how remembering his backpack was his responsibility. And I guess, knowing that he has forgotten every single time before, I should have doublechecked yet again, but getting out of the house is such a mad rush in the morning and I told him to remember his backpack not even five minutes before we walked out the door. At what point is enough enough?

So yes, I was frustrated, but no, I don't feel I was "cruel" to my son. I didn't yell at him. We had a conversation before we walked into the doors of the camp about what we could do to fix the situation. I will be honest, it didn't occur to either of us to have me go to a nearby store. Perhaps it would have if I didn't have a water bottle in the car. I don't know the area around the camp well at all. His suggestion was that I go back home and get his lunch. Not only would it have been an inconvenient drive for me, but I actually had prior commitments for the day. Other people who were counting on me would have been affected. It wasn't simply a case of my not wanting to do it. He mentioned the vending machine. I told him I wasn't inclined to give him money for that, because I felt it was rewarding him for forgetting his lunch (seriously, the food there is all junk food). He said he understood. I asked him if he would be ok without lunch that day and had he eaten enough for breakfast to last him until the time I picked him up, which was actually going to be earlier than normal anyway. He said yes.

Also, the mom who left him a lunch is a really good friend of mine. We left drop off prior to her arrival, so I did mention that my son had forgotten his lunch to her in a text . I didn't ask her to bring food for him, but I sort of knew that she would probably advise her children that it would be ok to share their lunch (which they never finish) with my son. The fact that she ended up picking her children up early is why there was a whole extra lunch for him. So I do feel that I laid groundwork for him to not go hungry, but I felt it was also important for him to be able to realize that his actions have consequences and that he shouldn't rely on me to always swoop in and immediately correct his mistakes. He didn't go hungry that day, but I don't think it was that bad for him to go the morning thinking that he would probably not have lunch.

And yes, that night, without having yet read these responses, I wrote up a checklist of everything he had to do in the morning. He had them all done before I even woke up, including putting his backpack in the car (too bad his lunch was still in the refrigerator - heh - but at least he is learning).

I still don't know if I handled this the right way, but I don't know if I think I handled it that badly either. I might not do this exact same thing if I had to do it over again, but I think it turned out all right anyway. Thank you all for writing.

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T.M.

answers from Tampa on

Wow, yeah this was totally inappropriate given his age. I would have been annoyed too and I completely understand that it would have been a PIA to go back home for it. However, I probably would have stopped at a store to get him something for the day so he wouldn't be hungry...that is just cruel to allow him to go without. Frankly, I would have been unable to eat my own lunch knowing that my child didn't have anything to eat for the day.

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C..

answers from Columbia on

I would not have given him money for vending maching lunch.

What I would have done was provided an "alternate" lunch - one that would provide him the energy to do his best at camp, but that he might not "love" - that could be kept in the car - granola bar / cup of fruit etc. That way he has a consequence, but also a backup,

In the end... he DIDN'T go hungry. So he DIDN'T learn the lesson. What he learned was "mom doesn't care if I go hungry, but strangers do". He did get a lunch, provided by others.

So, what was the lesson he ACTUALLY learned?

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C.W.

answers from Washington DC on

I think this was harsh. This happened to my 9 yo this summer at camp and like you we were in the middle of no where 25 min from home. I went to Rutters to find something for her to eat. If I forget my lunch I don't punish myself for going hungry. Even at school they give them cereal or something. At the very least you could have given him some vending machine money. Gymnastics is hard work. He probably needs at least something. But I bet he won't forget again.

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S.F.

answers from Fargo on

Yes. You were absolutely too harsh. Not only was your expectation not age appropriate, but big breakfast does not sustain a 7 year old during an athletic camp. I'm so glad that others had compassion on him.

Reinforcing responsibility takes time and training. You still bear the responsibility for his basic needs at his age.

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B..

answers from Dallas on

He's SEVEN.

Just thought you needed to be thoroughly reminded of that.

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D.K.

answers from Pittsburgh on

He is seven. You are the adult. There was no place you could have found closer to his camp to pick up a yogurt and an apple for his lunch? Hopefully when you are old and forgetful, he will be willing to take an hour from his day to help you. Your consequence for not checking he had his backpack should have been to waste your time finding him a second lunch or driving home and back.

23 moms found this helpful

A.J.

answers from Williamsport on

Disregard that lady's out of line expression. This is how I GREW UP in the 70's and no one would have thought twice about it, and back then before "hover parents" she would have looked at you like you were crazy if you DID go back and get the back pack. AND they wouldn't have had a vending machine there like they do EVERYWHERE now. God forbid a kid goes an hour without a snack.....There was a time when a parent could say to a coach, summer camp leader, teacher, "Junior forgot his lunch." And the person would side with the parent to remind the child they shouldn't have forgotten it. I've forgotten MANY lunches and spent many-a-day at school with no lunch and no lunch money. My parent's jobs (night shift and day shift) overlapped and I had to get MYSELF to the bus in the morning. Sometimes I made mistakes. And learned from them.

People's favorite form of discipline these days is supposedly "logical consequences" but then some people don't want them enforced by the universe when they happen. He forgot his lunch. He went hungry that day. That is the epitome of a logical consequence. It doesn't mean he's a neglected child or that you're a bad mom. His health won't suffer.

I say don't sweat it! As for all the people saying you should have stopped at store and gotten something different......mkay....maybe IF there is a store on the corner that has lunch food/granola bars and would take only a second to get in and out....but if not, he'd be a half-hour late (and so would you) due to a pit stop and this is a recurring problem for him and his lunch was all packed. Again, it's OK that you didn't or couldn't swoop in and save him that day. People shouldn't be shaming you.

The fact that he said "he understood" shows you're raising a good boy, mom.

****Of course this outcome would be delivered with a loving tone, not a mean one. No one was ever "mean to me" when I forgot my lunch, and sometimes, others would give me something, but the tone of the day was, "Hey, try to remember next time, there's nothing for you to eat today" from all parties said KINDLY, not angrily. This was before there were ATMS at every convenience store on every block so SOMETIMES you just had to do without, and it was FINE. We read psychology studies all the time about how kids need some hardship to build character, yet we are loathe to let any discomfort at all EVER occur. I think people are overreacting thinking he was yelled at, and a cold shoulder turned to him to "teach him a lesson". In reality, as a loving mom, you let him attend without his lunch and didn't let him replace the lunch with candy from a vending machine. It's OK. Wild woman's advice on organization is great. Work together and don't feel bad.

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M.S.

answers from Salinas on

I understand you are trying to teach him natural consequences but he is only 7 years old (almost...). He does physical activity all day at the camp so of course he would be hungry by lunchtime. I understand the hassle because we live 20 minutes from my kids' school, so I get the inconvenience. I would have stopped at the store to grab something for him then docked his allowance or required extra chores. No he is not literally going to starve, but he could get light headed with gymnastics etc. all day. I'm not trying to judge or be mean, but you did ask.

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M.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Way too harsh. A first grader? Have you not ever forgotten anything? Sorry, but you were responsible to make sure he did what you told him to do. That's called parenting.

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J.K.

answers from Sacramento on

Sorry, yeah... I think you were too harsh for his age.

I get what you were trying to do, and I know how frustrating it is to have to remind constantly and then have things forgotten, but I think 8am-3 (I'm assuming he didn't eat breakfast in the car during the 25 minute drive), is too long for a child of that age to go without eating. I don't even know if I can go without eating for that long!!

I would have been the horrified lady at the desk...

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M.F.

answers from Phoenix on

Yes, you were way too harsh. I understand you want him to start taking responsibility for his things, but you are the adult and it's YOUR responsibility to check his work, make sure he has what he needs before leaving. You should have checked with him to see if he had everything before the car left the driveway. That was your job and you dropped the ball, so he paid the price of not having food for the day. You deprived him of a basic need, food. All because you wanted to teach him a lesson and because you didn't want to be burdened with going back to the house. That was in no way fair or age appropriate. The next time you leave the house without your lunch or your phone or something else important, make sure you don't go back for it or grab a bite along your way.

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

Wow, I really feel sorry for your son. He is 7 years old for goodness sake. He is YOUR responsibility. I get teaching children but this went too far.

Were you really SO busy that you couldn't stop by a convenience store and pick up a sandwich or something to take to your child or were you just he$$ bent on teaching him a lesson?

He probably won't forget his lunch again but he also will never forget how his mother treated him either.

18 moms found this helpful

C.F.

answers from Portland on

I think 7 is way too young for that type of natural consequence training.
He is a growing small child, he needs those calories.
That is risking making him ill, just to teach him a lesson he probably wont understand at his age.
Just my opinion.

My husband said that if he was working there and a parent left a child with no food or money, he would have called child protective services.
When my husband was a kid, the teachers at his school called CPS because he ate so much every day at lunch & they were worried he wasn't being fed at home.
He is glad they did, at least some one showed concern.
He was fine, for the record, no harm no foul, but some one cared enough to check.

A better lesson would have been him missing some camp by having him go all the way back home and back to camp with you.
Make him go in the house and get it.
Then he misses some camp, not food.

18 moms found this helpful

B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

For middle school (6th or 7th grade or higher) - yeah what you did was fine.
For elementary school? No way.
He's 7 yrs old.
Your expectation for him and his memory for his age is off by 5 or 6 years.
Have everything made up the night before and 15 min before departure time you put his lunch in his backpack and put it in front of the door so he HAS to pick it up before the door can be opened.

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K.S.

answers from Miami on

yes too harsh. I would have ran around the corner and got him a sandwhich from a deli or a lunchable from the food store. He is 7. Mine is 12 and still forgets at times. Heck I forget at times and I'm in my 40s.

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K.A.

answers from San Diego on

My kids forgetting their food is one thing I would not let pass and use as a learning experience. I would have made sure they had lunch for the day. I've let things like forgetting to grab shoes to change in to after swim lessons mean they have to run the rest of our errands in flip flops, which they hate. But I always make sure the kids have food and if it's forgotten I find a way to make sure it's figured out. I would have either grabbed something from a local store or given money for the vending machines.
I do think it was too harsh, especially for a 7 year old spending the day physically active at day camp.

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D.S.

answers from New York on

If it were his homework, gym clothes, etc. then no you were not too harsh, and that will teach him a lesson, however leaving your child with just water and no food is cruel!! He is going to a camp where he will be active all day and no food, sorry that is wrong on so many levels!! Maybe you shouldn't eat lunch today either. He is a CHILD you are an adult. All your taught your child is he had to rely on strangers to eat, and that you really didn't care about his well being. I usually am not one to judge but this infuriates me, as a mom I am not quite sure how you could leave your child without food because it was going to mess up your day. I know this is harsh but you asked!!!!

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

He's 6. The responsibility is on YOU and not him. Sorry mom, but you are in the wrong here.

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C.C.

answers from New York on

Here's a better way to teach the lesson: a "consequence" happens if he forgets to bring his backpack BUT you make sure to check if he brought his backpack when you get to, say, the end of your driveway. You don't drive all the way to camp (btw, how did you not notice that his backpack was missing?!).

Each day at the end of your driveway, check to see if he remembered his backpack with everything in it. If not, extra chores etc. But you are close enough to home to be able to go back and get it!

ETA: In "real life", remember who this situation actually reflects on - YOU, the adult. I doubt any adult at his camp said "That little boy is so careless, he forgot his lunch". What they were saying was "That mother refused food for her child". You're lucky if they didn't say "We should file a report with Child Protective Services"!

ETA for your SWH: You ask at what age this would be appropriate. In my opinion, it would be appropriate when he is old enough to be able to correct the situation by himself, rather than being "forced to go without". That is why some posters replied "if you forgot your lunch at home, you wouldn't force yourself to starve". For example, when he is old enough to have money in his wallet to buy himself something from the vending machine - well, mom made him a free lunch, but he forgot to bring it, so now he has to pay for lunch himself. Or, if he were old enough to be able to walk to the store - he has to miss swim time at camp to walk to the store to buy himself a sandwich, because you have other commitments and can't drive him to the store. What makes your story seem "harsh", in my opinion, is that your son is still at an age of helplessness for this situation, and is totally at the mercy of you (or other moms) to provide for him.

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A.L.

answers from Las Vegas on

E-gads way tooooooooooooo HARSH !! the poor little guy....

I know plenty of adults (myself including) who have run out the door and forgot lunch or something.. tell me you never did that.. and I bet that if you were at work and forgot your lunch, you'd probably do like most and buy yourself something..

Why should there even be consequences for a kid forgetting their lunch. If you want to teach responsibility, let it be with something meaningful like hey, you have this chose to do, if you don't , then no going outside to play until the chose is done..

but lunch..
yeah way too harsh..

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E.T.

answers from Rochester on

If it had been anything other than lunch I would say it wasn't too harsh. But under these circumstances where it was lunch and he was at an athletic camp where he was burning a lot of calories, yes I think it was too harsh. And legally speaking, (I just sat through a 2 hour training on legal issues in school settings) the withholding of food from a child can be grounds for neglect. Obviously, if it is a one time thing it probably wouldn't lead to a neglect charge, but the camp director or coaches are mandated reporters. They could (and probably should have) filed a report. I can understand you not going all the way home for his lunch, but you probably could have found a grocery store or convenience store close by.

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B.P.

answers from Cleveland on

Yes too harsh. Its our job as moms to make sure our kids have their stuff for the day (school, camp, practice) whatever it is its our job. He is 7 not 11/12 your the one responsible for getting him up and making sure he has his stuff maybe sit them by the shoes or door from now on so he can grab as going out of the door. But you have to double check.

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B.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Yes you were too harsh.

Up until the end of your post I assumed that food was not available onsite. The fact that it was and you purposefully chose not to give him money to 'teach him a lesson' is just downright absurd. He is 7 for Pete's sake.

Apparently you never make mistakes? I just hope the day you do, somebody doesn't treat you as harshly.

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L.U.

answers from Seattle on

He is only 6. He CAN'T be responsible for himself.
You are going to be beating your head against the wall on this one.
My eldest son is 11 and I STILL ask him every single morning if he has his homework, his folder, ect. My 8 year old get's asked the same thing.
When we go to soccer I check to make sure that everything is brought.
My boys are responsible young kids. But they are just that.....kids.
I don't think I would have run back to my house to get his lunch, but I would have bought him a snack or two in the vending machine.
L.

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J.O.

answers from Boise on

Yes, to harsh. He's not a teenager and at that age it is still our responsibility to make sure they have everything need. Ultimately it is up to us, the parents. I'm sure you had options and you chose to do nothing.

Six plus hours with no food is a long time for a child that's body and brain is still growing.

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S.B.

answers from Dallas on

It was a little harsh. I completely understand your frustration. And I understand the hassle it would have caused to your day. I probably would have stopped at a nearby grocery store and brought him a lunch...probably not his favorite foods, but something to eat.

My son is also seven. School just started and we worked on him being responsible for having everything he needs. We started this in kindergarten after I was making too many runs home for forgotten items and this year he is in second grade, it is still a work in progress. I remind him after breakfast to make sure his bag is packed. When we get in the car I run down the check list - "Do you have your backpack?", "Boomerang Folder?", "Snack?", "Water?","Homework/Project?". If he forgets something he has to go back and get it. He hurries around in the morning so he can watch some cartoons before he leaves. He loses cartoons for the next day when he forgets his bag or it isn't packed properly. And we do have some wiggle room...I don't get too upset when he forgets something out of the ordinary. He doesn't get punished if I woke him up late and we are in a hurry. Etc. We are never late to school, but sometimes, just that "panic" when he THINKS we will be late is enough punishment.

It will probably be a little while before your son forgets his lunch again. He isn't quite ready to be 100% responsible for his items just yet. He still needs some hand holding and guidance. You need to double check his work before you leave the house.

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G.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Well, it's understandable why you felt that way. He's not an adult though. He's a kid and kids are not supposed to be adults. He's supposed to make mistakes and be able to have a safe environment to do that in.

I suggest you make sure that YOU check each day to see if he's got his backpack with his lunch because if he forgets it again and he's going to camp or school or anywhere they might just call child welfare and say you are refusing your child food.

Food isn't something you can refuse to provide your child. There are these cool places that are not called home, they're called convenience stores, Walmart, grocery stores. You didn't have to drive all the way home to get his lunch, you could have run over to the store and bought him another apple and a Lunchable or something. You could have even gotten him something that was not his favorite, he'd still eat it but not love it.

This isn't like telling him "well, since you left your sack lunch at home you'll have to eat the school lunch today". This is telling him, at 7 years old, either you remember to provide your own food or you go hungry.

So, I understand completely why you did this, really I do and I would have been tempted to do the same thing, but you should have really gotten him something for his lunch.

I don't think he's traumatized or going to hoard food from doing without or anything crazy like that. I think he's going to remember he was hungry today and wished he had some food and that he wasn't smart enough to pick up his backpack.

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O.O.

answers from Los Angeles on

Yes, too harsh.
Poor kid. :(

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K.D.

answers from Jacksonville on

Yes, too harsh. He's 7!! Its great to try to create that self sufficiency, but you have to leave room for mistakes at his age. Plus, this is an active camp and he would need the food to fuel his body. I would've given him money fir the vending machine and possibly made him pay me back out of his allowance, if I really wanted to teach a lesson!

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A.S.

answers from Boca Raton on

I think it was harsh for a 6 going on 7-yr old. But then again my kids are 19 and 16 and I was much stricter when they are younger. Now that I'm older I'm alot more laid back. They really will turn out OK without all the harsh reinforcements.

I don't think you were wrong, per se, and chances are he won't forget again! But I would want him to know that you are always on his side and that you have his back. My sons have done well with that approach. It doesn't mean I indulge them either.

I probably would have given him $$ for the vending machine. But hindsight is 20-20 and this is a learning experience for Mom too. The fact that you asked the question tells me that you are a caring and concerned mama!

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K.O.

answers from Atlanta on

I think you were great with it. Natural consequences work best and it is exactly what I would have done.

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J.K.

answers from Wausau on

I want to preface by saying you're not a bad mom. I think you just didn't think this though, and it is understandable when you're feeling frustrated.

Your job is to teach and guide your son. At 6 years old, you should still be double-checking to make sure that he has what he needs and/or rectify the situation if necessary. Teach him routine, show him systems. Wild Woman's advice to help him prepare the night before is great. The key detail, if you notice, is that it requires your participation.

Forgetting his lunch doesn't mean you had to go all the way home but it does mean you should have put your own plans on hold long enough to come up with another solution because the situation was partially your fault. Either giving him some money or stopping at a nearby store would have worked.

Going without lunch is a natural consequence of forgetting lunch, but the problem is that it didn't teach him to not forget things. People, even responsible ones, occasionally forget important things. People also need to be taught that it is okay to turn to others for help.

What this experience taught him is that his mom was not there for him when he made a mistake. He also learned that there is kindness to be found in others; in the other mothers and women around him. It was not a good day for either of you, so just work on helping each other make sure it doesn't repeat.

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C.M.

answers from St. Louis on

I did not read all of the other answers, but my first response when reading this was "Yes, too harsh!" Because he was at an active camp all day, because there were other options (gas station, vending machine, etc - even though it didn't make you happy), I think you should have given him SOMEthing to eat while at a camp all day regardless of how little he eats during the day. At his age, I think you still need to do a physical as well as verbal check for his things each day. My daughter just turned 6 but is in first grade and every day when we walk out the door to the bus, I make sure I can see her backpack...and I give her the lunch box to put in there. I think he's still a bit young.

I was a Director at a summer camp years ago and we always felt so bad for the kids who didn't have lunches (no matter what the circumstances). Often, one of the staff would run out and grab them McDonalds or we'd offer up some of ours.

I would have expressed sympathy that he forgot his lunch, tell him you understand he's learning still and from now on, make sure you can SEE his lunch/backpack before you pull out of the driveway.

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B..

answers from Dallas on

Kids who have really harsh parents are laughing that you asked this. You were taking him to a camp you arranged for him, for Pete's sake!

If kids forget their lunch, somebody, some kind heart will give him something, you can bet.

You should have gotten him something. Meh, no biggie. Lesson of the day was for you this time. If one of my kids forgot their lunch or H needed me to get something, I would.

Consequences are great teachers, but mercy makes you family.

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J.B.

answers from Houston on

You should have ran to a store close by and bought something, anything for him to eat.
Is it the end of the world? No. Well he be scarred forever? No.
Will him forgetting something important happen again? I can promise it will.

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J.S.

answers from Chicago on

He's 6, not 16. Yes, way harsh. I would have given him some money for the snack machines especially since you knew you couldn't go back home and get it.

Really, it would have taken you an extra minute or two to check in the car before you left if he had his backpack. It is his responsibility to bring it, but it is your responsibility that he has it.

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J.C.

answers from Columbus on

I do not think you were too harsh. You reminded him at home to bring his backpack with the lunch in it, he chose not to do that for some reason. I am not of the school of "wait until they're older" to teach them/have consequences, etc...I think too many parents want/choose to believe their kids are "too young" for punishment/repercussions because they (the parents) simply don't want to do it. Your kids will be the ones taking responsibility for their mistakes when they are older, the others will be saying "but but, it's not my fault" because they've not been held accountable for their own in/action before.

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N.P.

answers from San Francisco on

From my own personal experience, I've gone to school without my lunch before because I forgot it and I didn't starve. I got really hungry, yea. But guess who has two thumbs and never forgot to double check to see if her lunch was in her bag before getting in the car. That's right. This girl.

I'd have done the same as you and just made sure I had something waiting for him to eat when I picked him up. He wasn't going to keel over from malnutrition or faint or whatever from six hours of playing around without having anything to eat. You said he had breakfast, he'd be fine. When I was a kid, there were days I'd skip lunch completely rather than stop swimming...

I don't think you were too harsh.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

i think you did just fine.
don't let the squawkers guilt trip you.
khairete
S.

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M.K.

answers from Columbus on

In my opinion, yes, you were too harsh! Instead of going all the way home, in addition to the vending machines, wasn't there some kind of store nearby to get him something? Even a granola bar, crackers, SOMETHING?????

While I realize he has to learn responsibility, I think leaving him without food is not the way to do it. If this was like our school and they would have at least given him a cheese sandwich, it wouldn't have been so bad. But leaving him with nothing at all, and knowing it, is just wrong!

Forgetting homework and not taking it to him is teaching him responsibility; not supplying him with food is not. If he "forgets" it too many times, you may be getting a visit from Child Protective Services.

Good luck!!

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M.P.

answers from Raleigh on

A little harsh maybe. I would have just stopped by the grocery store close to camp and got him a little something. In the least given him a few dollars for the machine. I get all dizzy and a headache when I don't have at least a little something to eat for that amount of time.
Besides, he's just 6, not 16. I know with my 7 year old, I have to go behind him and make sure he has everything.

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O.H.

answers from Phoenix on

If everything is in his backpack, how hard is it for YOU to look at him when he's leaving to make sure he has it with him? I understand you trying to make a point for him but that is a LONG time for a little kid to go without eating anything. He's still very young and learning. I would have gotten him something from the vending machine and then made sure he had it with him when he left the house. Good luck.

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J.K.

answers from Los Angeles on

Although in the end, there were others who were willing to share food with him and no real harm was done, I think you were harsh. If I forgot to pack my lunch for work, I wouldn't starve myself to punish/teach myself a lesson -- I would drive out and pick up food during lunch time. I can't function when I'm hungry, and I have a sendentary job staring at a computer screen all day. And I'm an adult in her 30s. To expect your 7 year old to actively participate in gymnastics camp from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. without food is harsh even if he ate minimally the three previous days. What if he got really hungry that particular day? I would've given him money or picked up something for him. I was an extremely responsible kid growing up (just ask my mom!), and she never used such harsh methods to make me into a responsible person.

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C.B.

answers from Chicago on

Sounds like you were having a rough start to the day and your son forgetting his lunch was the last straw. We all have hard days but in my opinion, leaving a 7 year old at an all day gymnastics camp where he'll be very active without a lunch is too harsh. I can imagine doing the same thing out of frustration but know that the moment I got in the car and cooled off I would have regretted my decision and had picked him something up and brought it back. I understand about wanting to "teach him responsibility" and your fear of rewarding him with something from the vending machine but he's so young and kids forget... I would have stopped by a nearby grocery store and gotten him something or left money for the vending machines and explained to him that now that he's getting older he needs to be more responsible but it is mommy's job to make sure he has everything. Perhaps you could hang a little checklist by the door listing everything he needs with him before leaving the house. It would serve as a great reminder.

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R.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Yes, you were too harsh. He's only in first grade. If you don't have to travel far to bring him his lunch, then bring it to him. If you do have to travel far, then don't bring it to him.

Loving interventions from mom (where she goes out of her way to bring you your lunch) are one of the things that creates an emotionally healthy kid.

But he won't starve.

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L.A.

answers from Austin on

Ha! I am going to bet it is going to be a long time before he forgets his backpack again.

I can totally understand not being able to go home and pick up the bag, At school they have a way to give the children something to eat if they forget their food, but at this camp, it sounds like it is not set up that way. but I would have probably at least found a convenience store a a Walgreens drug store store to pick up a piece of fruit and a package of peanut butter crackers and a sports drink or water. .. Especially since there was no other food options for him..

You will need to work with him to figure out the best way for him to remember his backpack, homework, lunches and anything else he needs each day for school.

We had a bench right next to the front door. When we walked into the house, that is where our backpacks, handbags, coats, electronic chargers, keys were all located. It is now a side table.

It is usually a bit of a mess but we know where to look for our things you get out of the door are always located. Some people have a list next to the door to remind their children what they are supposed to pick up on their way out of the house.

Our daughter would do her homework and return it to her backpack on the bench, In the morning if she was taking a lunch she knew to take it right to the backpack to walk out of the door. If she forgot her lunch or forgot to make a lunch, she had a bit of money in the backpack AND money on file with the elementary school cafeteria.

My husband is the one in our home that has the most problems. He will forget his work keys, his cell phone, his ipad, his wallet, his GLASSES!

Amazing that the man is dressed..

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C.M.

answers from Washington DC on

yeah I would have gone back to get his lunch, or stopped at a near by grocery store and gotten him something there real quick. He is only 7. Yes, he does need to learn to be responsible, but mistakes happen. If I ever forgot to bring my lunch to work, I would be able to stop by and get something on my lunch break. I think a check list by the door is a good idea. But, just remember, he is still very young and everyone makes mistakes.

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L.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Meh. A little harsh, but not horrifyingly cruel. No one ever died from skipping one meal. I hope he learned his lesson.

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

Going with a yes to harsh. At the least you should have got some cheese crackers from a vending machine. Your the mom and while I think he needs to be responsible so do you. And if it means a last "do you have your bookbag" before leaving the house that's what you need to do. And you could reinforce it by saying no video game tonight not starving him. What he ate the day before is really immaterial as to whether he would be ok with just water today. If I had been running this camp I would have provided his lunch and charged you for it. He is 7 not 17.

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R..

answers from San Antonio on

My children (elementary age) have forgotten their backpacks either at home or in the car. And as a consequence had to eat a school lunch which they hate. I knew they would have food.

I can see doing what you did out of frustration. Because my son is always forgetting things. And honestly in the moment I am not sure I would have thought about going to a convenience store.

I know others are saying it was too harsh...but give yourself some grace...we all make parenting decisions that we wish we had done differently.

Maybe keep a few granola bars or something like that in the car for the next time he forgets...because he will.

I have more grace on my kids since I have gone back to work and forgotten stuff either at home or at work. (Right now my favorite coffee cup is at work, I hope...)

HUGS!!

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J.T.

answers from New York on

I'm in the too harsh category. I'm sure there was a store nearby. He's a little kid. Adults forget things but if its food, they usually at least have cash to buy something. He didn't even have that option. I don't get expecting little kids to be so responsible. They're very young. It always strikes me as the parents just wanting things to be easier for them. I grew up to be highly responsible without my mother expecting it to start so young. I don't expect it of my kids but find they keep trying to take on more themselves bc they want to.

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C.V.

answers from Columbia on

No, I don't think it's too harsh. This is Love and Logic at work. Good job.

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E.B.

answers from Denver on

I think that perhaps you and your son should have a talk about this, together. Maybe you could tell him that you're sorry that he didn't have a lunch today, and that both of you need a backup plan for the future.

He can make a check-off list and put it by the door. Work together on it. Backpack? Homework? Coat? Any extras needed for the day (field trip money or permission slip, etc)? Make it the last thing he sees before leaving and help him to learn responsibility. A visual aid in the form of a small laminated poster with a dry-erase marker attached to it can really be helpful. It eliminates forgetfulness, and puts the responsibility on the right person.

Then you can also have a backup plan. In a small container in your car, keep some basic non-spoilable items like individually wrapped granola bars, juice boxes, and other simple items like that.

If he forgets his lunch, and needs something out of the container, you can have him help you re-stock it. He could do an extra chore to pay for it. And now is a good time to discuss healthy eating, the need for a good lunch and water to replenish fuel and hydration, and the importance of remembering our responsibilities.

Make this a good teaching moment for both of you.

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K.M.

answers from Chicago on

Way harsh on a nearly 7yr old. Maybe a nearly 8yr old could have handled this but too young. My son gets a verbal checklist from me and has one on the closet door of all his needs. Before ALL of us, leave we all rattle off our needs. Dad: phone 1, phone 2 (work - personal), wallet, watch, iPod, sunglasses, keys. Mom: purse, water, phone, sunglasses, keys. Son: backpack with folder, homework in folder, lunch in backpack, water bottle, smile, good attitude for day. Then we leave. This take 5 min to do if something is forgotten - a worth while 5 min of the day. I expect by next year he can rattle off his items while I listen and by 3rd grade he should be okay on his own. I would have gone to the store or subway and gotten him food. I also would have had him face a consequence at home for his actions - like no TV time or something. But at a gymnastics camp, no food ... too harsh. I would have gone and gotten him food myself and spoken to the director about this.

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A.S.

answers from Dallas on

I expect my daughter, who is in second grade, to remember to get her stuff together in the morning everyday, That's something they have to learn early - to be responsible for their stuff. But I would never dream of allowing her to be without a lunch. Especially at school or at a day program. At school I have money set aside in a lunch account if she forgets it - it could happen because she rides the bus. At her daycare I leave a bag there with snacks that she can munch on. But I would never allow her to go completely without a lunch. I've been in your shoes before because I work 40 minutes away from her school but there is a store close by and I have gone and picked something up real quick for her to have. It may not be what she wanted originally but that is the consequence.

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C.N.

answers from Baton Rouge on

No you were not too harsh.

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D.S.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi, T:

This is a learning lesson for both you and your son.
People are very generous with each other in time of need.

Don't worry about the forgotten back pack. Learn from it.

1. You make sure he has the back pack by staying behind to check
and make sure everything is taken care of.

You are the adult. His brain cells haven't fully developed so he will be forgetful.

2. Try not to be punitive about mistakes made.
If he had forgotten his lunch, could you have gone to a store and bought him a snack?

Forgiveness is an art.
Good luck.
D.

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M.W.

answers from San Francisco on

My gut reaction to reading this is "Ouch..that was harsh". But that is from the outside looking in without all the stressors of a hectic morning and me telling my kiddo to grab his stuff. I understand your irritation and frustration. I understand wanting to teach your child to be responsible. I know I would have been irritated and frustrated too.

You are feeling like a crappy mom after front desk ladies gasp in horror and your friend leaving her kids lunch behind for your kiddo. You know that front desk lady must be sharing your "neglect" to others on campus. Let it roll off your back.

Your son will survive. No you are not a horrible mother. You are just trying to raise a responsible child who will grow up to be a responsible man. We all make everyday decisions trying to teach these lessons to get that end result...some are effective, some not so effective. I can't tell you if you were effective on this one.

I do think I would have given him some money for the vending machines or ran to a store to pick up a light lunch...but no treat. I would tell him that this was his one time freebie day. Next time there is no money for the vending machine. I would tell him that later we will talk about how to make our morning go more smoothly.

Then when it was pick up time we would have a talk about our morning routine. Then I would tell my son that tonight HE will pack his own lunch and put it in his backpack. I would ask him where he can put his backpack so as not to forget it again.

Tomorrow make sure to notice if he has his backpack. Don't tell him, "Son go grab your backpack!" Instead, ask ,"Son, do you have everything that you need for today?" Stating it this way every morning helps trigger his little, underdeveloped brain to think of the things he needs for the day. It helps..we learned this trick from a child behaviorist. Giving your child more responsibility and ownership over choices will help reinforce HIS need to get HIS stuff ready and in a place he won't forget.

Good luck and best wishes!

Don't worry about what other people at this camp think. Deep down they know you are trying to teach your son a lesson...not that you are an ogre. You are just feeling really bad because of their reactions. Just wait...he is only 7....you have a 11 more years of other people judging how you are raising your future adult son.

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S.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

A 7 year-old still needs help remembering his things. It's only been since my daughter turned 11 that she has gotten reliably responsible for bringing everything, every time. (and I still forget things.)

We have a "checklist" before we get in the car in the morning.
shoes - check
backpack - check
snack - check
whatever else is needed - check

We have only once in 6 years forgotten a backpack. I drove back (1 hour total extra driving) got it and delivered it to school.

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J.S.

answers from Phoenix on

I'm really unsure how I would have handled this in the heat of the moment. He is a little young, BUT, you did remind him several times before you left. Part of me does think it was a good lesson, like someone else described, a good Love and Logic opportunity. I too, feel like getting him something at the vending machine or at a store and spending my $ would have been a "reward" for forgetting. After all, what kid wouldn't want to pick something from a vending machine instead of eating his lunch? One thought I just had, was maybe you could have bought him something, but made him repay you either by extra chores or through allowance (if you give him allowance). That would have still provided a "lesson" for having to spend your $ to make up for the forgotten lunch. I don't think it's the end of the world that you did this, and don't beat yourself up. You're trying mama!

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L.M.

answers from Dover on

I think it was a bit harsh. Now, if the camp ended right after lunch, not so much.

My daughter is 6 and just started 1st grade so I am right there with you on making them more responsible. In this case, I would have made sure he had "something" even if that meant going to a close by store and getting a peanut butter sandwich (or the fixings for one) that you could take back to him. Something to eat but nothing fancy. Need fulfilled without rewarding.

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H.L.

answers from Houston on

I think that you did fine. If they wanted to share, so be it. Keep it moving.

Tomorrow, put a note at the door. It's okay to help him to remind for a few more years.

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J.K.

answers from Kalamazoo on

I probably would have gone to a gas station or store nearby and picked up something for him instead of going all the way home. Obviously he wasnt going to starve, Id be more worried about the nosy lady at the front desk calling CPS or something.

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C.M.

answers from Chicago on

I think it would have been an appropriate consequence for a much older child that is still being forgetful.

With gymnastics camp being very physical, I probably would have gone to the store and gotten him something. Then, when he got home, I would have had him sit down and think of ways that he could help himself remember.

My daughter has always been very forgetful! I have let her go without a snack because she was careless and forgot, but never a lunch. If she does forget and I have to do something extra, then she owes me a chore when she gets home. I always make her problem-solve her mistake.

In this instance, I would have made her think of solutions to the problem of no lunch. Eventually she would have come up with the idea to go to the store to buy something (or I would have guided her to it). Then we would have gone together and she would have been late to camp. A consequence in itself. When you make a mistake, you have to take the consequence. Then, because I had to go out of my way AND spend extra money, she would have owed me a chore. On top of that she would have to think of ways to help herself remember. For my daughter she puts everything she needs for the next day in ONE spot, and then she got in the habit of checking the spot before she leaves. This is the solution she came up with.

I try to focus on "How can we solve this problem you created?" rather than just outright punishing.

Good luck mama! We all need to teach our children lessons NOW, so that they don't have these issues when they are adults and the consequences are even more harsh.

No harm done really in your situation, and I hope he learned his lesson!

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P.K.

answers from New York on

Yes. He is 7 not 11! I would have found a deli and gotten him something to eat. My grand kids do things like this ALL the time. I will run to school and bring something once but then too bad. They are 11,13 and almost 15. No excuse after the first time.. I raised four kids. Every night everything was by front door and ready to go. Rarely did they forget something. If they did, I brought what they needed because it might be once during the year.

Once the 11 year old pulls out a paper for like the sixth time and says "oh great Mom forgot to sign this." I told her that I saw her take paper out and SHE forgot, not Mom. She got all huffy and went into her room and slammed the door. I did not sign. Guess, what, she never forgot again.

They get it once you make an impression..

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A.H.

answers from Omaha on

I just read you SWH. It's a live and learn situation and I think you handled it the best you could. I think anybody calling CPS because of one forgotten lunch would be going a little overboard, IMO. We all mess up and any mom on here that is trying to make you feel like they haven't messed up a time or two needs to take a hard, honest look in the mirror!! Sounds like he did a great job the very next morning to remember his things, so even though it was a bumpy lesson at the start, sounds like it was impactful for both of you. Way to go, Mom!

I agree that going all the way home would have been an inconvenience for you, but I would have found a nearby grocery store to pick up some non-perishable items to tied him over. I am guessing at a gymnastics camp he would be working up an appetite that I would have given grace instead of making him go without to teach a lesson. Kids need to know their basic needs-food, water, shelter-are going to be met so they can feel good about themselves, trusting and able to do their best. I'm not saying you scarred your child, but there are other ways to make your point powerful to him. For example, Jim Fay's Love and Logic would suggest having your son pay monetarily (if he receives an allowance) or by doing certain chores to make up for you having to spend your time to go get another lunch for him. Something along those lines so he sees how his actions (forgetting his lunch) impacts others (your plans for the day). This way his basic need is met, he still feels empathy and love from you, but starts to see how his poor choices affect others.
My son started kindergarten this year and we are all getting used to the earlier start times. I am finding out that the nighttime routine makes all the difference for the morning routine. Bathing, getting clothes, lunch, snack, backpack ready the night before (as much as possible at least) and getting to bed at a decent hour makes the morning much more pleasant and smooth. This way the only tasks that need to be done in the morning is getting dressed, brushing teeth and hair, and eating breakfast. Designate an assigned spot for the backpack and lunch bag, so it is ready to go out the door. We also make sure the tv is off now in the morning until all of these tasks are finished and time allows for it. Sit down with your son and decide what you and he will be responsible for at night and in the morning and then practice, practice, practice!
Don't beat yourself up. I don't think you were overly harsh, but this is what I would do if it happened again. Hope this helps!
A.

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A.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Last year my then-6 year old forgot her lunch in my car and I couldn't leave work to get it to her. So I got in the internet and ordered her a GF pizza and a drink. Total was $15 once I added a tip. I warned the school that the delivery was coming. She ate lunch, I worked, and then that night we talked about being more mindful of the lunch box. And, it hasn't happened again.
I would have called CPS if I had been your son's caretaker. We are required to report parents who don't make arrangements for their children to eat.

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

7 year olds have a really hard time remembering things...it's a part of that age. He'll get better as he gets older. I would have bought him something from a store nearby. But, perhaps this will work and he actually will remember his lunch from now on.

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L.P.

answers from Boca Raton on

oh. i think he is too young to remember his stuff. my kids are 9 and i still have to make sure they have everything. personally, i don't think that what i would have done. leave kids go without lunch, and/or depend on others' thinking about lunch for him.
maybe you didn't want to go back home (which i would have), but stopping anywhere to grab something for him would have been best. you may not know the area but camp people sure do.

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T.H.

answers from Norfolk on

in our public schools they dont get to call home to say they forgot lunch. they get a half thawed piece of cheese on two cold pieces of bread. and maybe a milk.
i've been having to check after my even 13 year old. she remembers things most of the time but not always, i even forget things and need reminding. i might not always "check" to see if they locked the doors, grabbed their things, or have their seat belts on but i will say something, usually. they usually fuss at me for even asking with " i know" or "yes" in that tone of theirs.

there are also times when wewill go someplace and i'll tell them to grab their bathingsuits or toys to play with while they are there and they will claim that they don't want to swim or play and don't get the stuff. i go behind them and graab the things because i know that they will change their minds while we are there. it never fails too. soon as we get there and they see everyone else having fun then they realize they want to play and cant. that's when i let them realize i brought stuff. i hope they felt that twinge of regret so that next time they will bring things just in case but im not sure its worked yet.

as parents we have to decide what we will do for our kids and for how long. each kid needs a different amount of time as well. my youngest is more sensitive than the oldest so i cant discipline her the same way i do my oldest. you as the parent will know what he can handle best.

in actuality i may have been a tad upset that others gave him their lunch at the same time as being a tad relieved. he did get that feeling of regret that he forgot his lunch but he didnt get that hungry feeling as well. he probably still thinks that everyone will always come to his rescue.

after thinking about it my kids teachers have been telling them sense 1st grade that its their responsibility to remember their homework, lunch and such not ours. that if they forget it's their grade that is effected not mine. so i take that as though they agree that it's the childs responsibility to get these things to school. not mine.

tough love hurts. not just the receiver either.

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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

I physically could not go all day doing gymnastics/exercising without eating. Could you? I would be shaking from a blood sugar drop. I would have made sure he had something to eat and come up with another way to teach the lesson. Maybe you could have taken away some tv time or given him extra chores. I understand you were frustrated but active people need to eat every few hours.

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K.M.

answers from Kansas City on

I would have provided lunch in some way--either out of the vending machine or stop by a sandwich shop. My oldest is 8, so I totally get the responsibility thing. But, kids are kids. Maybe you should outline his responsibilities (pack backpack, pack lunch, brush teeth, etc), but check to see that he's done them. For example, stand at the door and say, "What were you supposed to do this morning?". Then let him respond with, "pack lunch, pack bag, brush teeth, etc". Then ask if he's done all of that.

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