Writing about food allergies from a pediatric allergist's perspective

3 Food Allergy Teaching Points: Let’s Empower Kids

Written by Michael Pistiner, MD, MMSc, adapted from Talking to Our Kids About Food Allergies: Children Believe Grownups.

Food Allergy Teaching Point #1: Children Believe Grownups

Children Believe Us: Food Allergy Teaching PointMillions of kids around the world truly believe in Santa Claus.  They have listened to the stories that their parents have told them and  they accept these stories as reality.  Santa is a magical man that travels through the air on a sled pulled by a team of flying reindeer.  He shimmies up and down chimneys delivering toys to children worldwide, all in a single night.  He also knows who’s naughty and who’s nice. Kids trust what grownups tell them, even believing the most amazing and fantastic stories.  Although at times it may feel like our kids may not listen to a word we say, we can and do set their realities.

Food Allergy Teaching Point #2: The Unknown Can Be Scary

Uncertainty Can Be Scary:Food Allergy Teaching PointWhen our kids are faced with uncertainty they may come up with their own answers. We see this at times when our children are afraid of the dark or afraid of what’s under their bed or in their closet. The unknown can be way scarier than reality.


Food Allergy Teaching Take Home Point #3: There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to food allergies

Food Allergies Can Bring Uncertainty: Food Allergy Teaching PointWith food allergy can come uncertainty for children and grownups. This leaves the opportunity open for families, including kids, to fill in the blanks and create a scarier reality. Kids may believe that an auto-injector needle is the entire length of the device. Some children also think that if an allergen touches their skin then this alone is enough to kill them. At times our children are in earshot of media coverage of food allergies, house-hold conversations, and discussions with healthcare providers, restaurant staff, etc. where the words used can be frightening and overwhelming. We need to identify scary misperceptions  and replace them with the facts. We can empower children to participate in and get comfortable with their own age appropriate food allergy management. In-order to pull this off we need to get the facts for ourselves, get comfortable and then deliver these facts in an age appropriate way to children. 


Food Allergy Teaching Resource: Living Confidently With Food Allergy

Living Confidently With Food AllergyThis free, online Handbook was the result of an American and Canadian collaboration  lead by Anaphylaxis Canada.  I am honored and lucky to have worked for two years with Dr. Jenny LeBovidge (child psychologist), and Laura Bantock, Lauren James, and Laurie Harada of Anaphylaxis Canada on this project. It was created for US and Canadian families and reviewed by American and Canadian food allergy experts. Our goal was to create a free, evidence-based handbook  that would not only arm parents with the knowledge to keep their children with food allergies safe and happy but also to help parents empower and educate their kids to live confidently with food allergy.

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