2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 03:30
It is not always easy to live with one or more food allergies. The situation seems even more complicated when a young child is affected.
From experience, after controlling the risks in our child's environment as much as possible, the greatest assurance and the best investment is to empower the child.
My daughter had her first allergic reaction to peanuts when she was 3 years old. She is now 6 years old and she still remembers it very well. She heard us tell the story to so many people that she couldn't forget it even if she wanted to. And this is a good thing. To empower an allergic child, you will have to be very attentive to what seems to hold his attention in order to use it and make concrete links so that he understands the importance of the allergies that concern him. Talk to him, explaining the real consequences that allergies can have. Adjust your language level to his. You have to be clear and leave no gray areas. The smaller the child, the shorter and more precise the explanations should be. Trust yourself and him, but prepare to get the results.expected. Don't be afraid to talk about allergies with your child.
Here's a good trick: invent possible scenarios with him and see what he would do in different situations. Children love role-playing, make it a game. For example: If we go to the store and a lady who gives chocolates wants to give you one, what do you do? If the child gives the wrong answer, gently give the correct answer and tell him why. Immediately offer him another similar situation so that he can quickly experience success in the exercise and that he wants to continue this game. Don't forget to congratulate him when he gives a correct answer.
Trust is paramount
Your child must be able to clearly understand who are the people (e.g. Dad, Mom, babysitter) who are best informed about their allergies and who are able to check the foods they are going to eat. Your child's trust in you is very important. He must know that under no circumstances should he trust anyone else with food. It doesn't matter how much he loves the person or how much that person may love him. Give him examples so that he understands. One day I was having a discussion with my daughter about this and she couldn't understand why she shouldn't trust her teacher with food. I told her about the time when Grandpa, who loves her more than anything, was very happy to have bought her peanut-free cookies and that he wanted to give her some. Sheis also allergic to nuts and these cookies contained traces of nuts. I made her understand that even people who love her with all their hearts are not informed like Mom and Dad and are therefore unable to protect her from potential dangers to her. Also, both parents must have the same discourse with the child. Information and instructions should be very clear in the child's mind.
Lead by example
By informing all the people who may be in contact with the child, you help him learn to take responsibility. He will see how you inform those around him and how seriously you do it. By having had several examples from you of how to tell people about their allergies, your child will increasingly understand the importance of this and it will be easy to encourage them to do so on their own, whether you are present or not.
Should we talk about death with a young child?
My answer: It depends on your child and his temperament. I once spoke with a mother who told me that her child barely ate because he was afraid of dying. This situation is sad, but real for some families. Obviously, in such a situation, the parent can work hard to try to make the child understand that once the food has been inspected, there is nothing to worry about. If this is your case and the situation persists, I suggest that you consult a specialized psychologist withthe children. The latter can help you communicate with your child and give you little tips that will be very useful to you. For my part, my daughter has a rather confident temperament. I always told her the whole truth by explaining to her that she could be very sick and even die if she ate nuts or peanuts. I think she takes her responsibilities to heart, but she's not obsessed with it. I made her understand the importance of not being afraid to ask questions when she has a doubt about a food given to her, even by my spouse or me. She surprised us many times and she often pushed us to check out certain foods that could have been fatal to her if she hadn't asked. Embarrassment should never take over when it comes to her life and she has learned this notion well.
When the time comes to start school, you will of course do your duty by informing the staff of the establishment. But you will quickly realize that there are many people your child will be in contact with that you will not have direct access to. You need to teach your child that every time he meets someone new, he should tell them about their allergies. The same law should apply when he attends a party, at a friend's house, or anywhere someone might not be aware of his allergies. This is where the training you have done with your child will becomeExtremely important. For a parent who does not have an allergic child, this method may seem exaggerated, but the fact remains that informing everyone around the allergic child is part of the methods of protection for your child. He must also fully understand the importance of never sharing food or dishes. He must wash his hands before and after each meal and snack.
When the child can read, you can print out, on a small card, the list of key words to watch out for in the lists of ingredients for his allergies (see AQAA). He can keep this card with him when traveling. It's just one more tool and it might help him in your absence.
Don't be afraid to repeat. Over time, you will have new ideas for scenarios related to the evolution of your child's life. Do the exercise from time to time. All important concepts must remain fresh in your child's memory. As soon as possible, have him wear his epinephrine auto-injector. Also teach him to recognize the signs of an allergic and/or anaphylactic reaction. Tell him to tell you or his caregiver as soon as he thinks he feels the signs. In this way, he will be able to receive the appropriate care in time. This concept is very important since the majority of cases of death following an anaphylactic reaction are due to the fact that the person in distress has not received an injection of epinephrine sufficientlyquickly or improperly.
A few points to remember
- Role play
- Be generous with congratulations
- The younger the child, the shorter, clearer and more precise the instructions
- Clear identification of resource persons
- Both parents must have the same speech
- Set an example and tell others about their allergies and encourage them to do so too.
- Don't be afraid to repeat, it might save his life!
- No sharing food or dishes with other people
- He must wash his hands before and after each meal and snack
- As soon as possible, get him his epinephrine auto-injector
- Make him a keyword map to watch
- Teach him to recognize the signs of an allergic and/or anaphylactic reaction.
Courage, you are not alone
Here are some references related to this article
- Quebec Food Allergy Association
- Anaphylaxis Canada