If you have a child with allergies, sensitivities, or special needs, you may have noticed that sometimes it can be hard to get friends, family, and caregivers all on the same page without lots of hassle and confrontation. Taking time to talk to every single person about your child’s situation can be exhausting, and it can even make your child feel singled out. If your family cares for a child with allergies, sensitivities, or other health needs, have no fear! We’re going to share some simple, effective, and stress-free ways with you that will help ensure your child stays healthy while you educate others about how to give them the best care possible.
Communicating With Family and Friends
This is extremely important because the more support a child gets from their loved ones, the more relaxed and confident they can be. Many families find that direct one-on-one communication works best with close friends and family members. Often times the family members we encounter will be well aware of how serious allergies and sensitivities can be, but other times we may have to do a good deal of education to get there. Elderly grandparents or other older family members may need to be reminded often to ensure they understand ways not to spoil their grand kids, and friends who don’t see your children often may need occasional reminders.
The best way to handle friends and family is by asking them to help you out. Instead of telling them what to do or how to do it which can be exhausting and cause tension, approach them from the standpoint of asking for their help. Let them know about your child’s situation and ask to recruit them to help keep your child safe. You may say something like “Annie has eczema and we’ve found that if she stays away from gluten, she’s a lot less itchy and irritated. Would you help me keep an eye on her at the birthday party and make sure she doesn’t get her hands into anything that might cause problems?”. This kind of communication is gentle, non-confrontational, and helps the people around you feel important and needed. In addition, asking for help in this way also creates lots of extra sets of eyes so that if one person slips up, there will likely be someone else who can step in.
Communicating with Educators, Baby Sitters, and Care Givers
The best way to handle this is by implementing the method above and providing written literature. Giving everyone who cares for your child a pamphlet from an allergy center or an easy-to-read one page note you type up and print out yourself is a great way to give them all the info they need in a way they can digest on their own terms. Having a 10 second conversation with a teacher and giving them a simple list with information and a few do’s and don’t’s is really a very effective method. We suggest creating your own print-out that has your child’s name, information about their situation, and a list of things any care giver needs to know such as allergies, triggers, medications, symptoms, and solutions.
When approaching a teacher or baby sitter, you could say something to the effect of “Max is really excited to spend time with you! He has sever eczema and some triggering allergies that I’d like to give you some information about. Basically, if you see him itching please pull him aside and check in with him. He can’t eat any tree nuts, but he’s usually very good at remembering. Here’s a little printout I made for you so that you don’t have to remember all the details. If you’d read over it once or twice when you have a few minutes and keep it on hand just in case, I’d really appreciate it. If you have any questions, my phone number and email is on the sheet.”
Make it kind, relaxed, and simple and you’ll find that the people in your life are eager to help you create a safe, healthy, and happy life for your child!