Explaining food allergies to your child


When my daughter was diagnosed with her egg allergy and life threatening peanut allergy she was only 18 months old. I didn’t quite know how to explain it to her. An 18 month old doesn’t understand about life and death, and it was not something I was ready to explain to her. I just told her it would make her very, VERY sick. We got her an allergy bracelet for those “what if moments” at the suggestion of her allergist, and told everyone who came in contact with her about her allergies. We even kept her out of preschool an extra 4 months until I was 100% sure that it would be a safe place for her. We gave her the Epipen practice injector to play with and showed her how to use it. We also made sure she understood she could not eat ANYTHING unless Mom or Dad said it was OK, or packed it for her to eat.

As she got older we had to explain death to her when we had to put our dog down, and again when her fish died. We explained that they both went to Heaven, which was an amazing, beautiful place that both our pets would love. It eased her mind on where they were going. However, as she got a little older I explained that if she ate peanuts she would get very VERY sick and could die. She told me it was OK because she would go to Heaven, and Heaven was an amazing, beautiful place. It did not convey the seriousness of what would actually happen to her, based on our description of Heaven. I finally ended up telling her that although Heaven was a great place to go, that she would not be able to be with Mommy or Daddy or Sissy anymore, and that would make me very sad, and I would miss her very much. I don’t know if this was the best way to explain it to her, but it did make her understand the seriousness of it, and she did not like the idea of not being with us. We have not had any family members die, so the concept of a person dying is not something she really comprehends yet.

Now that she is going on 8 years old we have emphasized more and more how very sick she can get, how she would have to go to the hospital, how her throat would close up and not allow her to breath, and how she would need shots (which she hates). I know it scares her, but it is a fear that I want her to have, to make her understand how very serious this truly is. I hope this fear will make her choose not to take chances on things she is not 100% sure of. This past Halloween, we made her go through her candy with us, and taught her how to read labels and decide if the candy would go in the safe or unsafe pile.

I don’t want her living in constant fear, but having a life threatening food allery is a scarey thing – VERY SCAREY, and fear may just save her life one day.

 

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About Annie

I have a daughter with a severe peanut allergy. She was diagnosed when she was 2. She is 11 now. I have lived the battles of having a child with food allergies, and feel education and awareness makes all the difference.

Posted on April 27, 2013, in Food Allergies, Food Allergy Awareness, Trials & Tribulations of Food Allergies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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