Having a child with food allergies can be hard. Not only do you have to learn a whole new set of cooking and cleaning tricks, but you have to screen every play date your child goes on to. It’s hard to trust someone who might not understand the severity of your child’s food allergies completely. However, teaching your child’s friends about food allergies can be the answer you need. By having all the children educated on food allergies, you can trust your child is safe at any play date and watch them thrive with their friends.
Most children’s books are written to teach a lesson. Whether it’s the obvious ABC rhyme or the complicated moral dilemma of an elementary school kid, these books are written to educate children. Given this, there’s no reason not to add a book about food allergies to the mix. Enough parents have written stories and created characters with food allergies to support their allergic child, so make sure to take advantage of some of the amazing books out there and educate the children in your child’s life.
Similar to books, many children’s programs are written to teach a message. Some shows have full characters dealing with food allergies, and others feature episodes on food allergies. Either way, these programs can be a great, entertaining way to educate children on food allergies. Additionally, the advantage of many of these shows is the simple way in which these problems are presented. Instead of dumping complicated information on the children, the programs can break it down into situations that children can understand.
Apps, board games, and even playing pretend are great ways to get children involved in understanding food allergies. Unlike books and television, having children play a game on food allergies actually gets them actively involved in their own understanding. This forces children to think up creative solutions to issues that might come up and experience the possible dangers of an allergic reaction in a safe way.
Could you bring it to Class?
Children spend most of their time and do most of their learning in classrooms. Given this, it is only natural that you bring them to the classroom when trying to educate children on food allergies. This learning opportunity can come in the form of worksheets, lectures, or even arts and crafts. The important part is keeping the content light and easy so that children will learn as much as possible.
In the car, in bed, or in the living room on a Sunday afternoon, songs in the classroom. Music plays a huge part in most of our lives, and for children, oftentimes, music comes in the form of educational songs. Given this, there’s no reason that there shouldn’t be a song about food allergies amongst that educational playlist. Featuring songs about food allergies can normalize allergies for children while also teaching them about their dangers.
Talk to Them
Perhaps the most obvious way to teach kids about food allergies is to speak with them. Oftentimes, parents will be worried about this for fear of scaring them. However, children are stronger than we think and most likely looking to learn. Make sure to take it slow and introduce solutions – not just problems – and make sure to answer any questions.
Take them Shopping
Turn a trip to the grocery store into a learning opportunity. By showing your children the different foods that may be dangerous for their allergic friend and which foods they will be able to enjoy, you are providing them with a tangible and visual understanding of food allergies. Show them the peanut butter that they should avoid and the gluten-free cookies that they can share.
One of the biggest fears with food allergies is the helplessness your child may feel. Having your child and their friend role-play situations can teach them ways to be helpful in time of an emergency. Show them to run to an adult or find a teacher, teach them how to explain to a waiter about their friend’s allergies, and make sure to play out different situations so that they know that there is always a way they can help.
For parents of children with food allergies, keeping your child safe is a full-time job. Every recipe, ingredient, and snack needs to be double and even triple-checked. However, perhaps the most difficult is trusting your child to go and be safe when you are not around them. By teaching their friends and classmates about their food allergies, you can begin a narrative in the classroom and make the children an active part of your child’s safety.