4th Grader having a hard time

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Hi everyone.

I need some advice. My son is 9 and is PA. Since the start of the school year he has been having a really hard time with his allergy. He doesn't feel safe with his new teacher, he doesn't know most of the kids in his class, and he thinks "peanut butter germs" are everywhere. He's getting increasingly worse as the days go by. He is at the point now that he will not eat his lunch because as he said "how do I know the person that sliced the meat didn't have peanut butter on his hands?" HELP I don't know how to help him get over this fear. Has anyone out there gone through this?

On Oct 9, 2002

While i am not going through this situation right now, I can totally understand why your son feels like he does. Heck, I feel like he does regarding my pa girls. I ask those questions all the time. My suggestion for you would be to have your son meet the people who work in the lunchroom at his school. Let him (or you if he's shy) tell them about his allergy and how it can hurt him so they can reassure him they will not touch peanut butter or anything that might make him sick. I think what your son needs most right now is reassurance that other people know what could happen to him and that they won't let that happen. It also might help for you to find a support group for kids with allergies. Knowing he's not alone might help.

Good luck!!

Lisa

On Oct 9, 2002

Thanks for replying.

See, that's the funny thing. This isn't a new school for him. He's been here since Kindergarten. I have to say the school is really aware of the allergies. They do a wonderful job of keeping him safe. He's not the only child in school with PA/TNA. His younger brother is PA & TNA. He attends the same school. There are at least 7 other kids with allergies in the school. He doesn't even go into the cafeteria. I pack his lunch every day. His teacher has had several other PA children in her class over the years. So she knows what to do. The lunchboxes are not even allowed in the classroom (except for his).

He did have a problem the first few days with some kids teasing him. Telling him "I had PB for lunch....no I didn't...yes I did and I didn't wash my hands" things like that. But he said that's stopped now.

Yesterday the nurse showed a video on PA to his class. I saw the video it was perfect for kids his age. A few kids asked questions and that was it. No one made a big deal about it.

He just came home from school, and didn't eat his lunch again.

Where would I look to find a support group for kids in my area? Any ideas?

On Oct 9, 2002

MTL, I don't have any experience w/ this either but remembered a thread that Cindy had started about daily anxiety for her school aged son. I raised it on the Living With Peanut Allergy Board. It looked like there were other children about the same age as yours who struggled with this as well. HTH!

On Oct 9, 2002

Thanks HTH, I'm going to take a look.

MTL

On Oct 9, 2002

Hi MTL,

I wanted to let you know that *HTH* stands for *Hope This Helps* [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

There is a thread in the "Off Topic" section of these boards titled *Web Abbreviations* that will help you learn the lingo here.

BTW (*By the Way*...Welcome to the boards)! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

------------------ Stay Safe!

Connie

[This message has been edited by Jazz It Up (edited October 09, 2002).]

On Oct 9, 2002

MTL,

Hope your son starts feeling better. I am a PA adult and honestly I never know when the insecurity of it all will hit me. Sometimes i am fine and other times I am afraid to kiss my DH b/c he may have had something with peanuts - even though he is always extra careful and doesn't even eat peanuts. Sometime, even after checking ingredients, I flip out and think OMG, what if there was a warning I didn't see and I have to run back to re-check.

I guess what I am saying is this could be just a bad time for your son. Be loving and supportive, don't (not that you would) make him feel bad for how he feels, but try and reassure him that he will be ok, that the school understands about food allergies and wants to keep him safe. Unfortunately there is not too much to do about mean spirited children who tease him.

I wish I could be more help. I do have to say that I have had less and less insecure moments (my allergy got bad as an adult). I find that when I am stressed about other things, my insecurity comes out.

Good luck!

On Oct 9, 2002

Thanks MaryM.

I was reading your response and just started to cry. I feel so bad for my baby. I mean I know he's a big boy now and he'd be so embarrassed if he new I was referring to him as my baby but, he is.

I keep telling him that all the adults in his life know how to keep him safe. I'm trying to reassure him but nothing's getting through.

I talked to the school nurse, the pediatrician, his asthma doctor and they all spoke with him. Nothing made a difference. When I suggested we talk to the school counselor or a counselor outside of school he said no way. No more doctors. He only wants to talk to me about it. Not even his Dad, just me. I tried to explain to him that I think we need help from somebody else but, he just started to cry.

I think I'm in trouble here. As a parent, you want to protect your child, you know, make sure no one or nothing ever hurts them. And with this, I just can't make it better. As hard as I'm trying, I just can't make it better.

On Oct 9, 2002

Thanks! I'll check it out so I can learn the lingo. Nothing like standing out as the new kid on the block!

On Oct 9, 2002

No pro-blem-o! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] I had to look up *HTH* a few weeks ago myself! You'll get the hang of it in no time.

I'm sorry your child is going through a difficult time with peanut allergy. There seems to be different stages with my child who is 8. He goes between confident back to scared to self-assured and assertive to don't touch me...don't know where the hands have been...type of behavior.

I think reassurance on our part is essential to helping them be confident. Easier said than done. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Again, welcome to the boards and don't worry about the lingo...you'll learn it in no time! I was just giving you a hard time. Nice welcome, huh? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]

------------------ Stay Safe!

Connie

On Oct 9, 2002

Why don't you tell him what you did when you first found out about his allergy? Maybe you could find some websites that don't paint such a horrible picture, and maybe some that emphasize the Epi-Pen and any other med that he may take? You could sit down at the computer together and read them? Maybe you could emphasize what meds he takes and how they are his "safety net". It's not like he's out there with nothing. Does he wear his Epi-Pen on his person or is it in his backpack? Maybe getting him a Epi-Pack and letting him wear it would make him feel better? Use an analogy or something - tell him it is like a "shield" that knights wear to keep them safe. I use humour a lot, swash around the living room a little, get him laughing. I think that always helps. I know this may sound hokey, but it might work. He probably just needs to feel more in control. Also, could you read up on some deep breathing techniques to teach him for when he gets really panicky or scared? When I was in college, I had a professor tell us to find an object, hold it, take deep breaths and imagine being in our favorite place. He used an ink pen. Maybe your son could feel the Epi-Pen through his pack, close his eyes, imagine being at the park, or a soccer game, or a merry go round or wherever, and take deep breaths for a few minutes! HTH... Beth Audrey and Lillian 22 months pa/tna/egg/eczema

On Oct 10, 2002

Hi MTL, I went through this when my PA daughter was in 4th grade. She was acting just like your son. I think at this age PA kids start noticing that they are different than other kids and we all know that kids at this age do not want to be different. I had her allergist talk to her about her fears, that seemed to help. Also, if things get really bad maybe some counseling might help. Hang in there, this will pass, my daughter is in the 6th grade now, and she has made a complete turn around. Say positive and be patient(which can be hard at times)! Take Care

On Oct 10, 2002

Contact your allergist about support groups in the area. I know we have one or two in our small state so you guys should have something. Where there are parents, there are children so maybe you'll find something close!

Also, have you read the book THE PEANUT BUTTER JAM? I just got it for my 1st grader. Although there were some parts I didn't agree with, I found the book helpful. She loved it! I think your son may be sharing some of the same anxieties the main character did and this could help him realize he's not alone and there is a good way to deal with things.

Lisa

On Oct 10, 2002

Hey MTL,

I feel so badly that my post made you cry. The insecurity about the allergy is certainly not a constant thing. Sometimes it lasts 5 minutes. Life with PA is a challenge, but I am sure your son will be fine! It seems like he is surrounded by wonderful, caring, supportive people and that makes all the difference. Good luck, from what I have read here it seems that 4th grade is a hard time for PA kids!

On Oct 11, 2002

My heart aches for your son! My pa son is only 6, so I'm not sure I can help but I was wondering whether your son would feel better about his lunch if he picked out the foods or even went shopping for them with you. Perhaps pre-packaged lunchmeat rather than deli meat that is handled by who knows who and his choice of other safe foods he is comfortable with. Maybe even seeing how much time you spend reading labels in the store will reassure him. How about a visit to a manufacturing facility so he could see for himself the cleanliness and safety of prepackaged foods? (Might want to go first on your own to make sure it would be reassuring!) Or perhaps your son needs to feel more responsible for keeping himself safe, rather than feeling he is at the mercy of others. My son knows that if he eats only what we send from home (or hot lunches with no dessert) and washes his hands 4 times if he feels anything sticky or strange on them, he will be fine. He knows that if something did happen, there is medicine for him in the nurses office. He is very confident that he can deal with his allergy by following these rules. Like I said, my son is much younger so I don't know if any of this will help! A 9 year old is probably more aware of everything YOU put into keeping him safe than my son is. I hope he can start enjoying school soon!

On Oct 11, 2002

Welcome!

Just going out on a limb with a thought here...

Is your son an anxious kid in general? Is it possible that he is having other anxieties that he doesn't really want to talk about, but is kind of concentrating on this instead?

I agree that 4th grade can be difficult - sort of the year that separates the men from the boys so to speak. Even though he doesn't want to speak to anyone now, perhaps you should speak to someone yourself to get some strategies. It sounds like he is really unhappy, and there's no point in letting it get out of control. Hopefully, either it will resolve with the help of some sound strategies, or maybe he'll be willing to talk to someone in the future.

Good luck, and please let us know how he is doing.

Amy

On Oct 11, 2002

Quote:

Originally posted by audreylilliansmom: [b]Why don't you tell him what you did when you first found out about his allergy? Maybe you could find some websites that don't paint such a horrible picture, and maybe some that emphasize the Epi-Pen and any other med that he may take? You could sit down at the computer together and read them? Maybe you could emphasize what meds he takes and how they are his "safety net". It's not like he's out there with nothing. Does he wear his Epi-Pen on his person or is it in his backpack? Maybe getting him a Epi-Pack and letting him wear it would make him feel better? Use an analogy or something - tell him it is like a "shield" that knights wear to keep them safe. I use humour a lot, swash around the living room a little, get him laughing. I think that always helps. I know this may sound hokey, but it might work. He probably just needs to feel more in control. Also, could you read up on some deep breathing techniques to teach him for when he gets really panicky or scared? When I was in college, I had a professor tell us to find an object, hold it, take deep breaths and imagine being in our favorite place. He used an ink pen. Maybe your son could feel the Epi-Pen through his pack, close his eyes, imagine being at the park, or a soccer game, or a merry go round or wherever, and take deep breaths for a few minutes! HTH... Beth Audrey and Lillian 22 months pa/tna/egg/eczema[/b]

Beth,

Thanks for replying. Great idea about the websites. I'll start looking for one.

He can't wear his epi-pen. The school will not allow it. His teacher has one in her desk and the nurse has one in her office. He know exactly where both of them are.

I sorta took your advice about the analogy. I gave him a guardian angel medal to put in his pocket. I told him whenever he started to get nervous he could put his hand in his pcoket and feel the medal and his angel would help him feel better. It seemed to make him relax a little. But, he didn't eat lunch again. I think we're on day four without lunch.

On Oct 11, 2002

graciesmom,

Thanks for the encouragement. I'll try to stay positive!

6th grade huh? Two years ..... it's not really that long right? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Oct 11, 2002

Quote:

Originally posted by samirosenjacken: [b]Contact your allergist about support groups in the area. I know we have one or two in our small state so you guys should have something. Where there are parents, there are children so maybe you'll find something close!

Also, have you read the book THE PEANUT BUTTER JAM? I just got it for my 1st grader. Although there were some parts I didn't agree with, I found the book helpful. She loved it! I think your son may be sharing some of the same anxieties the main character did and this could help him realize he's not alone and there is a good way to deal with things.

Lisa[/b]

Thanks Lisa,

I'm going to go book shopping this weekend. I hope I can find that book. Somehow I don't think they will have it in the book store. I'll just have them order it for me. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Oct 11, 2002

MaryM,

It wasn't your post that made me cry. I think it's just all getting to me. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

MTL

On Oct 11, 2002

Grateful,

Thanks for replying. I don't know about the plant thing, he probably wouldn't want to but I guess I could look into it. It's worth a try right?

He does help get his lunch together in the morning. He's been having the same thing everyday since Kindergarten. Maybe he's just sick of eating that huh? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] that's wishful thinking!

On Oct 11, 2002

Hi Amy,

No, he's not an anxious kid. Never was.

He does very well in school. A's & A+'s on all his papers. Has a group of friends that he plays with. Plays ball. Normal kid behaviour. Nothing out of the ordinary.

This all really started in September about a week or so into the new school year. I have an appointment with his teacher next week. I'd like to talk to her and see what she can do to make him feel safer in class. He told me yesterday that sometimes a few of the kids forget and bring their lunchboxes into the classroom and then he will remind them and they take them out again. Personally, I feel the teacher should be at the door making sure no one brings a lunchbox in the classroom but that another story.

I suppose their could be something else going on here. I've been gently trying to coax it out of him but no luck yet. He insists it's all about his PA. He keeps telling me he can't stop thinking about the "peanut germs".

I am starting to look for a support group. For him, me or both of us!

I'll keep everyone posted on our progress. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Oct 15, 2002

My son is in 4th grade. I think this is a very tough age for boys. They want to be big strong "men", but they also want to be little boys. It comes out in different ways. When it comes to emotional issues, my son only wants to talk to me, he hates discussing those things with his father. He uses his father for "manly" things like sports. He uses me for hugs and snuggles.

On Oct 15, 2002

My 4th grade PA son has been looking for an email pen pal... would your son be interested. Maybe "talking" with others like him may also help. Joe has also gone thru similar "anxiety" moments and it is one of the most difficult things for us moms and dads to have to bear to watch our loved ones suffer and feeling of helplessness. Thank heavens he trusts you so much to help him thru this. There's so many caring people and a wealth of information on this website/forums. Take care... we'll be thinking about your family tonite in our prayers!

On Oct 18, 2002

Ann S.

Thank you so much for replying.

Sorry I didn't respond sooner, I haven't checked the board in a few days. I'm sure my son would like to e-mail your son. I think it would be good for Thomas to talk to someone just like him. Let me know if you're still interested.

Thanks for thinking of my family. We'll be thinking of you too!

MTL

On Oct 18, 2002

MY reply was to find an PA e-mail friend but, it looks like you got that going on. I feel this could be the best thing for 2 great kids. I hope all works out well, I have a 4th gr. boy who is older brother to my PA son and he is a God send... He is always looking out for brother. You'll be in my heart, best of luck.

On Nov 1, 2002

MTL, Just click on the email icon to the right of the date and time by my post (the postcard one) and your son can send an email message to my 4th grade son, Joe.

I also only hop on this board usually once a week ... I would love to more often, but life is good, and FULL! so not always possible.

Hope the kids enjoy emailing each other. We check our email every couple of days.

Take care! Ann

[This message has been edited by Ann S (edited November 01, 2002).]

On Nov 1, 2002

Hello, I was wondering what state you are in? I live in Florida and have lived in Washington state. I would bet you, I could tell you how to go about it and you would be able to get your son to wear an epi-pen belt. I put up a fight here and won. They can not legally deny it. Let me know if you want you can email me privately. [email]Allergy2Peanuts@aol.com[/email] Take care. Cindy

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