Friday, August 12, 2011

How to teach a young child about their anaphylaxis - Part 2

This is Part 2 of tips and tricks for teaching a young child about anaphylaxis. This doesn't include teaching a child how to inject themselves... we haven't got to that stage yet. Our son is only 2 at the time of writing. But if your child is older than this and you have other tips, please feel free to add them.

When our son first discovered wild mushrooms he just couldn't help himself. He'd be climbing on some play equipment and stop suddenly when he noticed a mushroom, seriously, as small as a pin head. At this stage we hadn't tried mushrooms at all, so it wasn't something I wanted him to play with. So my first point of call was "No, that will make you sick." That didn't work... so I decided to allow him to play with it, but only using a large stick. Yup that's right folks, if you can't beat them, join them! On some occasions, I'd tell him, "No, that stick is too small, you need a bigger one." Of course, which boy wouldn't want to find a bigger stick. So this technique seemed to work, and I guess could be employed for things that aren't life-threatening, but still not desirable. We also used this opportunity to distinguish between food bought at the shops and things found in the wild.

Bath games - my husband is responsible for this one. We've got toy cups in the bath, so they'd fill up cups, pretend that one was soy, the other milk, then offer it to each other. Sometimes, they'd get it wrong, and the person would start coughing. Other times, they'd get it right, "Mmm, delicious." Then if there are bubbles in the bath, it'd be coffee made from cow's milk or soy.

Emergency information - I've laminated a card with emergency information and approved foods for our son,. This is placed in the pocket in front of our son's car seat. I've told our son that if we are in an accident, then he has to give that "ticket" to the policeman or to get into the ambulance. He already likes policemen and ambulances, so that's an important thing to encourage too. I'm not sure if he'll actually remember this when the time comes, but the best I can do is try. I'll put the logic and details of this emergency information in another post.

Books - the more books and other people you can reference about food allergies the better. That means you can say, "No, you can't eat that food, it'll make you sick. If Mia eats it, she will get sick too." This is particularly helpful if they actually like the person you're referring to of course.

That's all I can think of at the moment - if you think of another good way, please let me know. The more we can educate our kids, the better. And the more fun we can make it, perhaps the better they'll remember it.

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