TOP > Director's Blog > > Appetite is Not Something Learned

Director's Blog

Appetite is Not Something Learned

Japanese Chinese

There are many reasons for refusing to attend school. Developmental disorders can be the cause of non-attendance, but in my view, most incidences of refusal to attend school are not related to developmental disorders.

Here, I'd like to relate the sad experience of a girl in the fourth grade who refused to attend school.

The girl who came to me for a consultation was quiet with a slender face. She seemed to be nervous, but there was also something sad about her. Her chief problem was the refusal to attend school and a feeling of fatigue.

After summer vacation in the fourth grade, she stopped attending school. When I asked if school was fun, she shook her "no." When I asked if she disliked studying, she again shook her head "no." Her mother, who was sitting nearby, added that her grades were not bad.

"Is the teacher strict?" I asked, and for the first time, she nodded "yes" in reply. Her mother then stated that her teacher was very strict about all the students eating everything they were served for lunch, and added that was the reason for her daughter's refusal to attend school. Her daughter had even started vomiting before lunch.

Not having much of an appetite, the girl usually left some of her lunch uneaten. The teacher repeatedly told her not to leave anything on her plate, and this made the girl feel increasingly uncomfortable about attending school. However, what triggered her refusal to attend school was an announcement by the teacher to the class, "We will have all finished lunch when she finishes eating everything."

As I listened to this girl, I recalled a similar experience more than ten years ago. There was a girl who was a slow eater and because she was always the last to finish lunch, the teacher instructed the other students to cheer her on as she ate with cries of "Go! Go! Go for it, XX-chan!" The girl did not refuse to attend school after that, but she would vomit almost every day before lunch.

Of course, this type of teacher is probably an exception and the eagerness displayed on the part of the teacher was excessive, but it is an example of how food education can go too far.

Appetite is a biological characteristic that varies from one child to another, and it is not something to be learned like table manners.


sakakihara_2013.jpg Yoichi Sakakihara
M.D., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Ochanomizu University; Director of Child Research Net, Executive Advisor of Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute (BERD), President of Japanese Society of Child Science. Specializes in pediatric neurology, developmental neurology, in particular, treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Asperger's syndrome and other developmental disorders, and neuroscience. Born in 1951. Graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Tokyo in 1976 and taught as an instructor in the Department of the Pediatrics before working with Ochanomizu University.

Good publication indeed! Thank You!

Write a comment

*CRN reserves the right to post only those comments that abide by the terms of use of the website.


Japan Today

CRN Child Science Exchange Program in Asia

About CRN

About Child Science


Honorary Director's Blog