It can be really hard to talk to your child about their food allergy. But there are tactics you can employ to make it an easier and more positive experience.
Through simple and clear communication, you can bring your child to a place where they understand their allergy. Having this understanding will help them to not be anxious or self-conscious about their condition.
1. Safety First
For young children, it is important to not overwhelm and to keep things really simple. The thing you should touch on first is safety.
- Give them simple terms to deem foods as either safe or unsafe. Explain to them that these ‘unsafe’ foods can make them very sick.
- The next step is to teach them the names of the foods and to point them out at the grocery store and in magazines.
- Then teach them to only eat foods given to them by their parents or by adults that their parents have approved of.
- The last first step is to tell your children that if they ever feel sick, they need to let and adult know. Also give them the run down on the emergency plan you have in case they have an allergic reaction.
2. Keep Calm
I know it is easier said than done, but try not to panic about your child’s food allergy in front of them. They will mirror your response. If you appear anxious, they will become anxious as well. It is important they know that their condition is serious, but they also need to know about there is no need to worry because there are plans in place to help them.
3. Get your Child Involved
It’s natural to want to care for your child behind the scenes, reading labels at the grocery store and what have you, but it is important that they join you in these activities. A helpful way to do this is to use “we” statements rather than “I” statements. For example, “Let’s make sure we have our epinephrine auto-injectors before we leave!”
4. Connect with Others
It’s important for kids to know that they are not alone in their food allergy. Tell them the facts about how many kids have food allergies and help them find friends who have food allergies. There are also support groups that you can join such as PAK (Parents of Allergic Kids). This will help you connect with other parents so you can get ideas on how to talk to your child.
With open and honest communication and consistency, your child will be prepared to face any situation. If you need any more advice on this topic, feel free to make an appointment with us. We have multiple locations in the greater Charlotte area.