Digestive Disorders, Food Allergies, Seizure Disorders
Tips on How to Talk to Your Child About Their Condition
Whether your child has a food allergy, eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE), food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), or any other type of food-related illness, it’s important to educate them about their condition. It’s never too early to help them understand what it means to have their condition and how to manage it. Knowing what kind of type of foods they can consume and learning how to handle a reaction is crucial, especially as they grow older and begin to spend more time away from home. Education and clear communication can help them stay safe and possibly prevent serious health consequences.
Here are a few tips for how to talk to your child about their condition.
Start simple. For toddlers and young children, work on introducing a few concepts at a time. Start by explaining to them that certain foods can make them sick. Use easy terms like “safe” and “unsafe” and show them pictures of these foods. If the child is older, you should teach them how to properly read and understand food labels. You can involve them in grocery shopping and meal preparation so that they become more aware of what they can and cannot consume. Then, let them know that they should only eat foods that are given to them by their parents or other trusted adults. Finally, they should know when to notify an adult if they feel sick or have a reaction.
There are also many tools and resources that can help you teach your child about their condition.
FARE has partnered with Twigtale – a custom online book publisher – to create a new, customizable book to help young children better understand their food allergies. The easy-to-use online template lets you create a book with photos and details about your child that you can use to help them understand their food allergy and important rules to keep them safe.
A list of other books to help educate children about food allergies and other conditions can be found here.
Binky Goes Nuts (part of the Arthur series)
Kyle Dine is a musician who makes awesome educational music about food allergies. Check out his website here.
Make your own food allergy education games. For example, print out pictures of safe and unsafe foods and put them on flashcards. Then you can have your child go through the cards and identify which ones are safe and unsafe. Another idea is to make a variation on the game “Where’s Waldo” and play “Find the Allergen” with examples of ingredient lists.