Your son scarfs down peanut butter sandwiches on weekends, but the ones he totes to school come home uneaten. Your daughter adores snacking on baby carrots, but begs you to pack chips in her lunch box. What gives? School lunch is less about food than about socializing. "The cafeteria is one of the first places they experience peer pressure," says Anne Lucchetti, Ph.D., a family communications specialist in Fort Worth, TX. Your child may not want his lunch -- and himself -- deemed totally uncool.
To help make his midday meal more palatable (and stop wasting those perfectly good sandwiches):
Get him involved Jody Mace of Charlotte, NC, lets her son Charlie help shop for and prepare his lunches. "They get eaten because he chooses them," she says.
Consider a compromise Packing a small treat, like a handful of chocolate kisses or a few oatmeal cookies, might slake his sweet tooth and get him to pick up his sandwich, too.
Let go There's only so much you can control about your child's school experience. Unless his anxiety about the cafeteria scene is responsible for his inability to eat (in which case, a talk with his teacher is in order), trust that he'll have better-balanced meals at home. And try not to take it personally if your child rejects what you pack for him. You probably threw out a few apples in your school days, too!