Packing school lunches has become an oddly specific lightning rod for modern parenting drama. The peer pressure to create a nutritious yet color-coordinated bento box nightly (eat the rainbow!) has put even celebrity parents on edge. “If I see one more Instagram blogger packing those incredible lunch boxes, I’m going to kill myself,” said none other than Charlize Theron. One think piece even likened elaborate napkin illustrations to “gender performance.”
Well, great news, parents. You may never have to deeply ponder these topics again.
According to developmental and behavioral pediatrician Dr. Damon Korb, author of Raising an Organized Child, kids should be packing their own school lunches by around third grade. “When we think about what we do when we make lunch, it requires planning and problem solving,” he told Australia’s Today Show. “Those kind of planning skills are important to be developed in kids and the everyday task of making a lunch [is] the way to do it…When kids do things for themselves, they feel proud... Our job as a parent is to coach them and teach them to do these things effectively and correctly.”
We envision them stumbling out of the gate. What happens when they pack themselves nothing but three Mallomars and a bag of goldfish? In response to such worries, Korb offers a wakeup call: “Learning happens by experiencing and making mistakes, and if we're doing everything for our kids, we're depriving them of their opportunity to learn.”