Parents of children with food allergies experience a tremendous amount of stress over the types of situations and interactions that other parents simply shrug off. A birthday party, a shared snack, or even a visit to a new home, can all be sources of stress. Learn more about the perspective of parents of kids with allergies in order to be supportive and sensitive, and to help keep their kids safe.
Do not blame families of kids with food allergies if they seem tense at parties or local events. During the day, at preschool or daycare, parents know that their kids are eating meals and snacks that follow the guidelines they have set forth, and they rely on the knowledge that there is a routine place in which the teachers and daycare providers understand the foods that are safe for their children, and can be trusted to make only those foods available. At home, parents can keep a tight lid on what kinds of foods come into the house and are consumed. But at a party, there may be a variety of snacks which are unsafe for their children, and those snacks might be new and tempting. Having to keep a close eye on your child to make sure she doesn’t eat anything that isn’t safe is nerve-wracking. Keeping an eye on her to make sure a kid who has just eaten a peanut butter cookie doesn’t grab her hand is even worse.
Trust parents when they tell you that their child cannot ingest, or even be in the vicinity of, certain food items. Every food allergy is vastly different from one another. One child might be able to tolerate a small amount of a particular food, while another might develop symptoms by just inhaling particles of that food. Symptoms can vary as well. Some children react to allergenic foods by experiencing small hives, while others can go into anaphylactic shock. And what every parent with a child who has food allergies knows is that just because their child’s reactions have been mild until now, that doesn’t mean a more severe reaction isn’t in their future.
Ask questions about your children’s friend’s food allergies in order to make sure that you are helping to create a safe environment for them. But don’t turn a child’s health issues into a curiosity, or some sort of small talk, especially within earshot of the child. Many parents chat about kids’ allergies they way they might talk about the weather, but young children hearing adults go on and on about their allergies may make them feel self-conscious.
Our childcare center takes the safety and health of all of its children seriously and has policies in place which ensure the wellness of all kids under our care. We appreciate all of our parents thinking about the welfare of other kids and families, and doing their part to support families with special concerns.