Q: I’ve got a child who is highly active and impulsive. He has milk, egg and peanut allergies and is just starting kindergarten. The school seems allergy-aware, but it’s my son I’m worried about. Do you have any advice? I’m doubtful my messages are getting through to this Curious George.
Dr. Watson: Sending a child with food allergies off to school for the first year is most stressful. I’m sure the fact that your son is impulsive does not help your comfort level.
Firstly, does he remember any of his reactions? If so, then you may be able to remind him how bad that made him feel, and reinforce not sharing snacks or other foods at school to avoid feeling the same way.
Another strategy would be to help him to remember the last time he was ill with a flu-like illness and explore with him how he felt, while reminding him that his allergic reaction may be even worse.
The goal would be to help him identify that he does not want to feel that way again.
If you cannot trust him, then you need to educate all those around him to be extra vigilant about supervising snack and lunch times.
For instance, learn who will do the monitoring and ensure that those individuals know: how and when to use an epinephrine auto-injector, your son’s allergies – and about his impulsive behavior.
Dr. Wade Watson is a pediatric allergist and Professor of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University. He is also the head of the Division of Allergy at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.