Teaching children about food allergies doesn’t have to be daunting. We try to keep the conversation open with J and use everyday situations and role play to help him understand it is an important but, to him, normal part of life.
He is always asking questions about his allergies – Why am I allergic to garlic and A isn’t? Can daddy have nuts? Will I be able to eat eggs when I’m bigger? We try to just answer them matter of factly like the 3 million other questions he asks a day!!
When a little girl offered him some of her popcorn at the airport we used it to remind him that he can’t just accept snacks – however inviting they look! He knows to say ‘Thanks but I have food allergies. I have to ask my Mummy.’ He knows not to share other people’s food and this will be even more important when he starts school in September.
Now he can have cow’s milk yoghurt we have explained how he needs to be careful around his sister, who is still allergic to dairy. We make him wipe his hands and mouth and he talks about how he will keep her safe. It is great for him to see it from both sides and be able to explain to other people what to do.
There are amusing interpretations too – last week he told me his toy eggs were allergic to me!!
While we would never rely on him avoiding his allergies at 3 years old, and work hard to make people around him allergy aware, it is important that he starts to understand and can advocate for himself.
Luckily there are lots of great, fun resources out there to help you with teaching children about food allergies so here are a few of our favourites. J enjoys reading these books together and Miss A loves dancing along to the music on the DVD.
Allergy Adventures was set up by Hailey after her niece was diagnosed with an egg allergy. There are lots fun activities on the website and four fab storybooks that take children on a magical adventure free of their allergen. J also really likes the activity pack and safe food stickers, which are fun and practical with slogans like ‘hands off’ and ‘my food’.
Allergy Adventures also run school workshops and very importantly help even more children understand food allergies and how they can keep an allergic classmate safe.
Tom’s Secret Agents
Tom’s Secret Agents is a sweet book written and illustrated by Jamie, a young boy with a nut allergy. Jamie has a playful and imaginative take on how his body fights an allergic reaction but still with an important message. It is lovely to see allergies from a child’s perspective and J enjoyed the pictures and characters used to remind him to always be careful.
Kyle Dine is a Canadian food allergy educator who tours schools with his unique songs and puppet shows. He has multiple allergies himself and is passionate about helping kids feel normal and included.
It is a really fun, dynamic way of teaching children about food allergies and J and A really enjoyed watching his DVD. Now I’m just waiting for him to come and do a tour in the UK!
WIN: You can win all three of these in our ultimate food allergy survival kit giveaway