I went into that panic, anxiety feeling the other night while watching one of the current affairs program. They were talking about food allergies and what a growing concern it is.
They mentioned that it wasn't too bad while the child was young and under constant supervision. The worry being, when a child reaches adolescence. Peer group pressure could tempt a food allergic young person to risk themselves by giving in to dares etc.
I hadn't thought of this. I had always thought it would get easier as time went on - and it has so far.
So, how can we avoid our child putting themselves at risk when they leave our care ? Here is a few tips that come to mind:
Teaching them the dangers and consequences from a young age.
My 3 year old knows enough already to reject any food offered to him, unless I say it is okay. I watched in amazement and pride recently as he quickly rejected a lolly offered to him by another little boy. He knows what will happen to him if he eats something he is allergic to- he remembers the consequences.
It's all good and well to teach them to reject food, but what happens when they are older and hungry? They need to know what is safe to eat. If in doubt, leave it out. Educate them with substitutions and alternatives to foods they are allergic to.
Healthy Self Esteem
When people have a healthy self esteem and know who they are, they are less likely to bow down to peer pressure. Sports and music are good ways to help develop your child's healthy esteem. They need to have a sense of belonging outside the family unit.
Know their Friends
Take the time and effort not just to meet their friends, but to know your child's friends. Create an atmosphere in your home where your children's friends want to be. A home, not just a house. It is at these times when you can get to know your children's friends. Ensure they are aware of the danger of your child's allergy. Go through the epipen with them. If they are true friends they will also be protective of any dangerous situations your child finds themselves in.
Let's face it, we can't be everywhere at once. God can. For those with no faith - I suggest seek it. Prayer is powerful. We need all the help we can get.