Lots of kids are allergic to peanuts. Yet not all of them adjust well to the attention such an allergy can bring. How can you help your child cope with the potential embarrassment of being singled out because of their food allergy?
First, acknowledge his or her feelings, but let them know there is nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, these days it’s certainly possible that another student in your child’s class could also be dealing with a food allergy, and this could be a way to meet a new friend. It’s important to continue a dialogue with your child and make sure he or she feels comfortable confiding in you.
Remain involved with how peanut allergies are treated at your child’s school. Judy Freedman, author of “Easing the Teasing: Helping Your Child Cope With Name-Calling, Ridicule and Verbal Bullying,” says that children’s embarrassment about their peanut allergy could be stemming not from the allergy itself, but from how teachers and students treat her. “There is a disturbing trend that many children who cannot eat certain foods are teased,” says Freedman.” More than a third of those with food allergies report being bullied or teased because of it.
Consider asking for an in-class presentation on allergies. According to Freedman, the teasing could come from lack of understanding about allergies. A class discussion would offer an opportunity to discuss allergies and develop empathy among classmates. “Until there’s a cure, education is key,” says Eleanor Garrow of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).