Do you sometimes question why your teen doesn’t remember a food allergy safety rule or how you can help them build their skills in self-advocacy?
While your child is gaining skills in independence, they’re still lacking full development of the brain. It’s actually the reasoning part, and can help explain why they seem to take more risks.
Allergic living had a couple great articles about this and the teenage brain:
Food Allergy Meets the Teenage Brain
Teens Speak Up About Averting Food Allergy Tragedies (teen perspective)
Here are some ways you can help assist your teen with their food allergy:
2. Model food allergy safety. They’re watching you – don’t forget to ALWAYS read labels, carry epinephrine, etc.
3. Have them ask questions. Guide them in calling companies and talking to restaurants so they can gain skills in self-advocacy.
4. Remind them to carry epinephrine. Apps can be used to remind them before they leave the house or the EpiAlert app could help notify them if they leave without it. Also consider placing a simple reminder note on the door, or a message as the wallpaper on their phone.
5. Have them pick out a medical alert. Help them find a keychain, bracelet*, etc. to help notify others of their allergy in an emergency.
6. Discuss food allergy safety with others. Make sure teachers, friends and those who are constantly around your child, know about their allergy and how they can help keep them safe.
7. Help them find support & encouragement with someone they trust. Is there an adult like a guidance counselor, coach, or youth pastor they know they can go to for support? Can they attend a teen conference to meet peers who have food allergies?
8. Help them find opportunities to mentor others. They say sometimes the teacher learns more than the student. Mentoring others at a food allergy camp, local support group or teen advisory, can be an educational and bonding experience for everyone involved.
9. Have clear rules and rewards. If they don’t make the right choice, what is the consequence? If they do, what is the reward…Can they start earning more freedom in going out with friends, later curfew, etc.?
10. Share and discuss. Share stories of children who have had reactions (age-appropriate). Discuss why they need to follow the rules and what could happen if they don’t. Also, be sure to discuss & praise them when they do make the right choice.
Here’s a more positive way to help discuss something negative they’ve done: Use the “Positive, Problem, Positive” approach. Start off by saying something positive they did or have done in the past. Then bring up the problem you need to address. Finish the conversation by saying a positive, encouraging word.
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