Why do people feel sorry for him?
(asked my 7-year-old)
Why does it have to be so scary?
(asked my 5-year-old)
Why does he get all the special food?
(asked my 3-year-old)
These questions gave me great pause and challenged me to merge my academic training with the medical facts. Avoidance of an allergen prevents an allergic reaction, so offending allergens need to "STAY AWAY!" But, we need to be mindful of the cognitive and affective development of the child. We cannot transfer our fear to the child. We need to exercise compassionate shrewdness: understand the medical facts AND think deeply about how we talk about food allergies and the kind of tone we are setting. We also need to educate those without food allergies - this is not about food preference, this child's body needs "special" food.
Stay Away Itchy Foods stems from these three questions my children asked me about their little brother and food allergies: