5 Tips for Discussing Food Allergies with Your Child

5 Tips for Discussing Food Allergies with Your Child

Food allergies are a common health issue in Australia, where 1 of 20 children have it. A good majority of these allergies are not severe, and there are many instances where children ‘outgrow’ their food allergies. At the same time, though, there are kids who may suffer from severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis. Among the symptoms of this life-threatening condition are difficulty in breathing, swollen tongue, throat tightness, wheezing or persistent cough, dizziness, sudden collapse, paleness, and weakness.

To prepare for allergy-related emergencies, many schools have at least one child care provider or teacher who has completed first aid training in Melbourne or any local training centers near the school. There are also many organizations and programs that aim to raise awareness about allergies and how to respond to them properly. Despite this, an allergy diagnosis can still send parents into a panic, especially if their child has severe reactions to specific food items.

One way of avoiding potentially life-threatening allergic reactions to food is to ensure that the children are well aware of their condition and triggers. At the same time, they should know the steps they should take should a reaction occur. Here are 5 tips that can help parents bring up and review allergy facts with their kids:

  1. Keep calm and start simple. While an allergy diagnosis may have panic-inducing implications, a child might still not be able to grasp the gravity of the situation. It’s best to approach the topic calmly and to discuss allergies using age-appropriate terms. Remember that the goal is to keep them aware and informed, not to scare them. Go over safe and non-safe foods, why they shouldn’t share foods with friends, and other safety precautions like why they should wash their hands when touching tables, chairs, and other surfaces.
  2. Practice talking to people. Your child must learn how to inform others of their allergy and how to ask for help should a reaction occur. Take the child with you when you talk to their teachers and care providers, just so they know what to say to an adult in case they need help. Every now and then, ask your child to initiate a conversation about their allergies, what foods they should avoid, where their allergy medicines are, and when they need these medicines.
  3. Remember allergic triggers. It’s a must for your child to be aware of their triggers. Help them effectively remember the foods they are allergic to by using games and pictures. Invite them to read the ingredients lists in products to see if an item has something they are allergic to. This way, they can actively remember and avoid their triggers at a moment’s notice. 
  4. Consistency is key. To help your child adjust, make discussions about food allergy a part of daily life. Always remind your child to pack their medicines, make them take part when listing down grocery items, cook allergy-friendly recipes with them, and roleplay situations where their allergies need to be brought up. Make this as normal for them as possible. Show them that while they do need to be cautious about their food allergies, they need not be afraid of it. 
  5. Use support tools. Your pediatrician can be of great help when explaining food allergies to your child. In addition, you can also use tools like books, TV programs, and other forms of media to keep your child informed. You can also join support groups where your child can share experiences with other children who have severe food allergies.

Severe food allergies not only affect your child’s health, but they can also change your family’s lifestyle. With proper information, the right attitude, and vigilance, you can face this challenge together without letting it affect your quality of life.

*This article is for informational purposes only and does constitute, replace, or qualify as RPL for our first aid training courses. 

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