Educating Children About Food Allergies - Four Key Points

Educating Children About Food Allergies - Four Key Points

by Kyle Dine

Gradually give more info

  • It’s important that children know that allergic reactions are dangerous. But it’s important to be careful how much info you provide given the child’s age. Sometimes saying that you would “need to go to the hospital” or “get sick” gets the message across very clearly. As children get older, you can build on these foundational messages with more details, along with reassurance to help avoid creating anxiety.. My mom used to clip newspaper articles – from food labeling regulations, to tragic stories. They all helped in starting conversations and were learning experience.

Understand and Empathize

  • I think many parents feel the worst part of having food allergies for kids is missing out on certain foods. From all of the kids I’ve talked to, I’ve found out there’s likely something else that bothers them more: feeling like a burden to others. Reassure the child that they are not a burden, we all have different needs and we live in a world where people are generally happy to help each other. Be sure to make special treats for them not only so they can have delicious goodies, but so they can feel included too.


  • It’s important to not back down on the most important things such as always carrying an auto-injector, wearing medical identification, not eating “may contain” products, and never accepting/sharing food. It’s important to establish these core things early on, and again, empathize with them if they ever do feel frustrated with them – but don’t budge.

Provide Encouragement

  • Positive reinforcement is so important to let kids know they are doing a great job with their food allergies, and to keep up the great work. This will go a long way in helping them “own the condition” and become empowered. Give them lots of credit, be overly impressed, and boast about how responsible they are to others when they’re in earshot.

Kyle Dine is an allergy educator who uses music, puppetry and story-telling to raise allergy awareness amongst children. He performs school-wide assemblies across North America and has an upcoming educational DVD available for pre-order. For more information, visit