Tips to raise a Happy and Healthy child with Food Allergies!
Parenting has never received as much attention as it has in our present age. It was usually limited to the elders of your family taking cues from their own experience and giving you some tips. But today Parents realize that raising a child is not an easy task. The issues faced because of the changing social habits and climatic conditions we live in cannot be related to our previous generations.
If raising happy and healthy kids today is a conscious effort, raising one with allergies is even more so a challenge. Allergies not only affect children physically but the side effects also have deep emotional bearing.
We all want to raise happy and healthy children. But each child is unique and needs to be catered to individually according to his/her personality and needs. Here are some issues I dealt with and how I found my own resolutions. Hope it helps you in some ways.
1. Abstinence from favorite foods:
A child may be choosy or picky eater but when they are abstained from eating something, that's exactly what they would want to eat. Feeding a child with food allergies can be quite a challenge.
My daughter loved her whole wheat chapatis/flatbread and eggs and that exactly what she turned allergic to. At a tender age of 3 she couldn't understand why mom suddenly stopped giving her her favorite foods. I tried to patiently educate my child and kept introducing similar allergen free foods. Gradually she accepted them and even started enjoying gluten free food.
Its important to make the child understand that the particular food is making them sick and they need to avoid it to stay healthy. If the child doesn't have Anaphylaxis, you can also give them hope that someday they can again have it after they out grow the allergy. If they have ever got sick out of allergen, they can relate to the discomfort better.
Don't let you child feel he is missing on anything -try to make or buy allergen free foods which are kid favorite. I regularly make or buy gluten free, egg free versions of breads, cakes, cookies, crackers and anything that my child desires.
2. Physical discomforts caused by Allergies
Allergic reactions also cause hives and rashes on the body. This can cause constant irritation because of its itchy nature. The child may become irritable and cranky. Its important to empathize with the child and provide them relief and comfort in every way possible.
I noticed that the part of the body with rashes would feel quite hot to my touch so I tried applying a cold compress on it. This not only soothed my child but also reduced her itching. Also take over the scratching task- a parent can gently itch the areas with a soft cloth or your fingers as opposed to children who would use their nails to itch more harshly.
Always keep their skin hydrated with suitable creams and lotions so it doesn't dry out. Keep the affected areas covered, if possible, to avoid more damage.
3. Emotional effects of Allergies
All the itching and rashes also leaves scars on the body. And when these scars forms on visible parts of the body like the face, neck, hands and legs then it makes them self conscious. I would make my daughter wear long sleeve tees and pants to protect the affected skin and to avoid stares from onlookers.
It is very important to boost their self esteem. Encourage their natural abilities and achievements and help build their personalities. Constantly reassure them with loads of affection and support and teach them to appreciate their true self much more than their physical appearance.
4. Managing unwanted attention
I have learned to give a quick answer saying "Just Allergies" or redirect the conversation to something more comfortable.
There have been few occasions when kids we bumped into public places asked my daughter what was wrong with her face. She confidently replied to them that it was just allergies and will go away soon.
6. Choose the right company
My child's friends and their families love her the way she is and never bring attention to her scars or make her feel awkward.
When we visit them, they always prepare food which is allergen free and can be enjoyed by all so she doesn't feel left out. The kids even love her gluten free snacks and have preferred it over regular ones. This makes her feel more privileged.