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Posted on: Wed, 02/23/2000 - 2:11pm
Samsmom's picture
Joined: 08/19/1999 - 09:00

Hi all. Our 4 year old PA son was diagnosed at 15 months. We have carried epi-pens and he has worn his Medic-alert bracelet since that time. We have tried to continually educate him on the dangers of peanuts and peanut products and have told him he WILL get very sick and "could" die. We try not to overemphasize that part as his great-grandfather died last year and he suffered for months with nightmares. He became very afraid that we were going to die soon and leave him too.
We have shown him what peanuts look like in various forms (for the same reasons mentioned in other posts - our home and relatives' homes are peanut free, suppose he didn't know what he was seeing?) We were also concerned that he wouldn't protect himself if an unaware or uneducated adult tried to give him something with peanuts. To combat this, when he was younger we would occasionally ask him if he would like a PBJ sandwich for lunch? He would look at us like we were crazy and say, "Mommy (or Daddy), I can't have that. I'm ALLERGIC! It will make me sick!" There have been a couple of instances where well-meaning adults have tried to give him treats and he has always remembered to ask about any peanut ingredients. We were close by and able to follow up.
Another note - Four year olds can be amazingly understanding and empathetic regarding allergies. Our son's pre-k classroom is peanut free, with great support from the other parents. I should add that there are two other PA children along with our son and it is a class of 19! We provided videos and printed information to the parents at the beginning of the school year. The kids watched the "Alexander The Elephant" video. One father coordinates the delivery of soy butter (similar taste as peanut butter) for interested families. When we have been out with our son and some of his classmates and stopped to get a treat, like ice cream, the other kids have stopped at certain pictures of the treats and said, "No, that has nuts; that has nuts; that has nuts" until they find one they think is safe. Then they have asked us if it was okay to eat around our son. They are just 4 and 5 years old. It surely makes it easier for our son to manage his allergy, (with adult supervision and support of course). Stay safe and don't underestimate your child's ability to grasp his/her situation.

Posted on: Wed, 02/23/2000 - 2:44pm
Renee's picture
Joined: 09/02/1999 - 09:00

I took the advice Kitty gave and got the "Letting Go" booklet from FAN, and it really helped me. My daughter and I went grosery shopping for two hours on Saturday reviewing isle by isle what was safe and not safe. She made correct choices 100% of the time. In many cases she said no to foods that were safe, but she could identify unsafe foods well. She can not read but she can memorize the word pattern of peanut, peanut butter, nut, peanut oil. She was able to identify the May contain statement at the bottom of the ingred. label. What suprized me was that this task kept her attention for so long. These kids are smart and able to learn to protect themselves even at 4 1/2. The other thing I learned from the book was to let them know that it is alright to refuse any food that the do not feel comfortable eating, to have them help you purchase foods that they like and are safe to exchange for treats they are unsure of at school, and to have a special treat at home incase they are offered a treat at school that they cant eat so that they have something special. I am sad that I have to spend time teaching her this instead of reading or writing, but this could save her life.

Posted on: Thu, 02/24/2000 - 1:49am
Diane's picture
Joined: 12/15/1999 - 09:00

My 3yr old is PA and I also show her what peanut butter looks like in the supermarket when grocery shopping. I'll point out the big barrel of peanuts in the produce aisle (at a distance!) and ask her what they are and she says "peanuts~YUK!" That [YUK]has been the word that she relates to when she hears "peanuts". I've been teaching her for over a year now. She asks, even in our home, if it's a new product that she has never seen before, if it has peanuts. What a great idea Kitty has to make a booklet from magazine pictures to help recognize peanut and peanut products. The earlier we educate them the better. At this age I won't stress the danger involved; just tell her that it makes her very very sick. And she remembers when her eyes swelled shut at "Aunt Murphy's house" from the bird feeders they made or the time she vomited at "Miss Kathy's house" because she ate a cookie that someone gave her. So she knows what very very sick means. I think I'll get the book Kitty mentioned. I agree that the key is to educate them. The old saying comes to mind "give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you have feed him for life". We could sheild them from day to day but one day they'll be gone and we need to know that they will be equiped with the wisdom that we could pass on to them throughout their childhood; Along with teaching them as they grow up what to avoid, we need to convey to them a balance of living a somewhat normal life too; to feel confident enough to "go out into the world" but to also know that they *always* have their epi-pen and *always* read labels, etc. Although that's something my young daughter and I will have to learn together;because sometimes I don't feel very normal dealing with this allergy. LOL! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Fri, 02/25/2000 - 3:04pm
Julie's picture
Joined: 04/27/1999 - 09:00

I am more on the side of keeping the death part out of the information for my kids right now. I have two PA children, 5 and 3. They are both very aware of their allergy and wear medic alert bracelets. The other night my son was asking me questions about mommy getting older someday, so on and so on....and then realizing that I would die and he would die someday as well. He then started to cry. I look back on my own childhood and think that if I had something like this allergy and my parents told me that I could die from this, I would have been crushed and scared out of my wits. I think at this young age it is too severe and to uncomprehensible for them. They both know that they could get SERIOUSLY ill from eating peanuts and are extremely cautious about foods given to them other than us. We've had one instance with an ambulance rush to the hospital when we found out about our 3 year old being allergic and that moment is etched in both of them that this is very serious. However, they also want to know at this stage in life that they are also somewhat safe by doing safe actions with their foods.

Posted on: Tue, 03/07/2000 - 2:13pm
CB's picture
Joined: 01/17/1999 - 09:00

Hi all
Death is a harsh reality and very much a part of our lives. My daughter asked me about a Great Canadian Terry Fox. He died of cancer and every year around the globe money is raised for research. In school the childern are shown a video of a part of his life.
Should topics be avoided because it isn't a pleasent experince? My daughter is contact, airborne and ingested allergy to pb.
She doesn't take food from people, she always says "mom read the ingredients please" before she eats.Don't forget that the ingrediants change from time to time also.
What was safe at one time to eat may not be safe today.
Take care

Posted on: Wed, 03/08/2000 - 12:06am
Tina H.'s picture
Joined: 10/13/1999 - 09:00

We all have to remember that peanut allergy is common today and still very few die from the allergy. The vast majority will be fine and live their entire lives with it. We have to be extremely careful, but I believe we have to let our children have a positive belief that they will NOT die from this allergy. They must learn to be careful and always carry an epipen. Research shows that when given epinephrine immediately, the outcome is good. How can any child live a happy life if they think they are going to die any day? Well, that's my two cents worth.

Posted on: Fri, 03/10/2000 - 12:32pm
bakermom's picture
Joined: 11/30/1999 - 09:00

I would like to say that I have really appreciated everyone's opinion about this. The most valuable thing we can get is that we are all trying to keep our kids safe, and alive. I also think that a parents instincts are worth a million pamphlets or any other's opinions, in some cases even our doctor's. I still do not tell my son he might die. He is four years old. He already has a childhood that is not "normal." He has a number of allergies that keep him from enjoying lots of activites. I stay by his side, and tell him only what he can realistically handle. He tells people what he is allergic to and will question me if a food doesn't "look right" to him. NO ONE gives him food that has not been approved by me. His allergies are so extensive that it is the only way. I try to take his mind OFF of his allergies and focus on all of the really great stuff that we have, each other, fun times, a sense of humor and God. When he gets older he will have to own his allergies and many other things about himself too, but for now, he needs a parent, not to be one. I don't agree with FAN's point of view. I haven't joined their network because I don't think they know much about human development and their literature and positions are based on what the majority *wants*, not what is true. So, I guess I have come to terms with my original decision and feel strong in it.
I do respect you all as parents, even though our opinions may be different.

Posted on: Wed, 03/15/2000 - 3:24am
Auntie Carrie's picture
Joined: 03/15/2000 - 09:00

I am the God Mother of a child with many allergies. Peanuts being first but not last. Every day is a constant struggle for his parents. I, as a close friend and someone who truly loves this child have been there daily and am fully aware and get involved as much as possible. Megan has mentioned this web site on several occasions and I finally decided to check it out. I could not read all of the stories because I was in tears. Alex is 4. He is a bright and beautiful child who is fully aware of his several severe "unsafe foods". The fear of sickness and death is a scary factor for him and knowing as much as a 4 year old can absorb is in his best interest. He knows to ask on everything.
I do like the idea of asking classmates and friends what they had for lunch and did the wash up. That may be our next exercise in learning.
In regards to, could, would, should might, may and will, choose your own words for your child, knowlegde is power and an epipen is not the answer to living with allergies. Prevention and education is. My heart goes out to you all and I pray that Medical Science, Eastern, Western or Alien ! will find a solution so that these children we know and love can have a better life.
Megan encounters alot of ignorance from family members and friends. I am glad I spent time on this web site and will surly visit again. Knowledge is power. The more we as
"non-parents" know the more we can help.
Good luck and God Bless.
Auntie Carrie

Posted on: Wed, 03/15/2000 - 4:19am
Chris LaPlaca's picture
Joined: 12/22/1999 - 09:00

I also have told my 6 year old daughter (diagnosed at 3) that she could die from eating a nut. This is a hard thing to say to a small child, or anyone, and I've had some people say I am making my child fearful. She is very wary of foods, but now that she is starting to get out of my "control" more and more, this wariness has helped her say No to foods, even when classmates and other parents have assured her that food was OK (when it was suspicious).
I equate the food allergy just like crossing the street without looking. You need to be very careful, but with caution you CAN remain safe. I always stress how we take precautions to keep her safe, and these precautions will prevent a reaction from going too far.
I wish she did not have to deal with such a serious topic, but I feel each day is a building block for her future. More and more, she will need to make decisions for herself and so she needs to have the facts.
I went to a support group once where we talked about this topic. The responses of the parents pretty much followed this thread. A psychologist was leading the discussion and she wanted to make sure that some children could get confused if they overheard something at school or home. She thought a fear of the unknown could be scary for a child.
Each parent is different and so is every child. Even though I made the decision to tell my daughter each parent knows best how their child will react and handle a situation.

Posted on: Wed, 03/15/2000 - 6:41am
AnMaMc's picture
Joined: 01/25/2000 - 09:00

Auntie Carrie - How lucky Alex is to have a God Mother like you. I agree 100% that knowledge is key and I also pray medical science will come up with at least a vaccination for PA. The support of a caring family or friend means the world to someone in our situation. Of course it is harder on the child, but, there are certainly times when it gets to be too much on all of us and to have an understanding and supportive "friend or relative" means so much. Keep up the good work!! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]



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