When a child is diagnosed with a food allergy, such as a peanut allergy, parents will do everything in their power to protect their child. Sometimes, parents forget to talk to their child about their allergy and teach them how to properly manage it. This is especially true when a child is diagnosed with a food allergy at a very young age. For instance, if a child is diagnosed with a peanut allergy at age 2, parents assume 100% of the responsibility of making sure their child is not exposed to peanuts. The 2 year old is too young to understand their food allergy. However, as the child learns to speak and communicate, parents should start talking to the child about their food allergy.
Below are some tips on how parents can talk to their children with food allergies.
Parents need to make sure they use age appropriate language when explaining their child's food allergy. Simple language will help a child's understanding and awareness of their food allergy. You don’t want to use technical and medical terms when explaining a food allergy to a 5 year old.
Parents should talk to their child with allergies about the symptoms of an allergic reaction. This is crucial because if a child is not aware of the symptoms, an allergic reaction that could have been alleviated with an EpiPen could turn into a life-threatening situation.
Some common symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:
Knowing the symptoms of an allergic reaction allows the child to tell an adult that they may be having an allergic reaction.
A child should also know how to tell others about their allergy. For young kids, parents will almost always be with them when they are eating, other than at school. Parents need to tell the school about their child’s allergies and inquire whether the school has any food allergy polices. A common policy schools in PA and NJ may have for kids with peanut allergies is to have separate tables during lunch. Kids with peanut allergies sit at one table during lunch to avoid accidental exposure.
For older kids, they need to be able to tell others about their allergy. For instance, a teenager going to a friend’s house needs to be able to tell the friend and the friend’s parents about their allergy. Oftentimes, kids eat snacks at their friend’s house. They need to make sure what they are eating is safe.
Parents should tell their child that people won’t automatically be aware of their food allergy. Therefore, the child needs to let people know about their allergy. A good way to let your child practice talking to others about their allergy is role play. This way the child can practice with you and not be shy when talking about their allergy to another person.
When a child starts going to school, whether it is pre-school or high school, it is imperative for parents to talk to their child about their allergy.
One of the most important things that the child should know is that they should never share food or a snack with another child. Parents should also talk to their child often. Parents should not assume that when the child gets older, they would not share food with their friends. Parents should be constantly reminding their child about how to avoid accidental exposure.
Foods that do not seem to have peanuts may actually contain peanuts. For instance, a child offers his friend, who is allergic to peanuts, a sugar cookie. Even though the cookie does not appear to have peanuts, it is made with peanut oil. Therefore, the child may suffer a serious allergic reaction if he eats the cookie.
Children with food allergies should not feel like they are abnormal. Parents need to explain to their children that their food allergy is not abnormal. They should not feel like an outsider or that they don’t fit in. Many people have food allergies, and more and more children are diagnosed with food allergies. They are not alone. Children with food allergies should never feel inferior because they have a food allergy.
If you were exposed to a food allergen due to the negligence of a restaurant, bar, school, etc., you have legal rights. Call our personal injury lawyers who are licensed in PA and NJ to schedule a FREE consultation. 877.944.8396