CHILDREN AND ALLERGIES
Teaching a young child about an allergy they have, may be an overwhelming task, not only for you, but especially for the child. If an infant or young toddler is encountered with a food allergy, it will clearly be the guardians sole responsibility until it comes time for the child to start understanding what they are allergic to and what it means to be allergic to something. If you are faced with this at a very early stage in life start talking about it as soon as possible, you want your child to be aware of their situation especially when they start school.
- Explain as best you can use little words that a child can understand about what food or types of food need to be avoided, the symptoms they will encounter, and what action needs to be taken for treating an allergic reaction.
- If your child has a food allergy that will cause them to go into anaphylaxis shock, they will most likely carry a prescribed epinephrine pen. Make sure your child is aware of the injector pen and what it is used for. When your child is around the age of 10 they can most likely administer the pen to themselves, but before that point someone at school, on field trips and extracurricular activities will be nominated to administer the injector pen if an allergic reaction causing anaphylaxis shock should arise. Even after a child has been taught to give them selves the injector pen always have someone appointed to help your child in case the child becomes unable to help itself.
- Get your child an allergy bracelet so that others can physically see that they have an allergy. An allergy bracelet can help a stranger see that your child needs special attention.
- Explain to your child that it is dangerous for them to accept food from other people other then the few well-known adults that know about your child’s allergic condition. Pick a small group of adults that can administer food to your child, that way there is less confusion for your child at such a young age.
- Support and encourage your child to speak up about their allergy so they can develop the tools they will need to keep their allergy under control. Get them to ask questions about what is in the food and how it was made when you go out to eat at a restaurant or at a friend’s house. It will be helpful as a parent when eating out at restaurants that you establish a well-known relationship with the restaurant owner and head cook, that way they can accommodate you better. Show appreciation by going out to dinner earlier, instead of showing up at dinner rush, where sometimes because of time things can be missed.
- Teach your child how to read labels and the many different names that are ingredient can have. The earlier they start becoming familiar with the names of problem ingredients the sooner it will become second nature for them to do. Teach your children to be cautious of the fact that ingredients in foods at the supermarket and restaurants can change over night. For instance a familiar food that you bought at the store was o.k. last week, but has a new ingredient this week, making it unsafe to eat.
- You as a parent have to be strong and not allow yourself to live life in fear, other wise the fact is your child will grow up living in fear themselves, and that is something no parent wants for their child. With you by their side encourage exposing them to all different types of places and occasions with food present, so they can become confident about choosing and evaluating different foods. Bring them to parties, weddings, restaurants, barbeques and even fast food outlets, as much as you may not want them to go eat at a fast food place, you know they will someday and it’s better for them to be prepared. These are a few a few types of places and occasions they will encounter. This will give them confidence and make sure you allow them to have fun, and not make them feel as though they have an evil monster lurking around them constantly.
- You will always get the best outcome in life depending on how you approach and handle the situation. Educate yourself and then tackle the situation with your newly found armor. Get support that you need for your child through doctors, teachers, friends and family.