Back to school is a time when parents around the world buy new character themed backpacks, tennis shoes two sizes larger and pour that first glass of wine while waiting for the familiar rattle of the bus to pass by.

However, parents of kids with food allergies face tougher preparation. Regardless of the age of your child, you must first equip them with personal advocacy. This isn’t so daunting at the age of twelve or fifteen but with a five year old, you are placing a lot of faith in the system.

Kids are taught to listen, follow directions and go with the flow. They need to learn these valuable lessons. Life isn’t about them and their special needs, or is it?

Both of my kids learned in kindergarten that they had allergies that previously didn’t represent themselves. Both children had to learn that I would not be with them at school and they needed to speak up, ask questions and refuse food. Whoa. Do you mean defy the system? Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.

My son was sick three times in kindergarten from being fed things that he wasn’t supposed to eat. The challenge for kids is being able to have a voice in an environment where they are seen as defiant if they do.

People ponder the best way to send kids to school when they have allergies. I say arm them with knowledge and your support. Send them with a lunch filled with yummy alternatives to the normal elementary options, teach them it’s ok to say no when their health is on the line and give them permission to go to the nurse for support.

The more your children know about why they can’t eat it, what it does to their body and how you are their advocate, the more they will be comfortable doing the same in your absence.

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