Don’t be A Helicopter Parent to an Allergic Child

You’ve been to the doctor. Your child has allergies. Your doctor says your child could die from an allergic reaction. I’ve been there.

As a parent you our job is to protect our child from harm.   And so, we go into action making sure that not even a crumb of an allergen is near our child. We make sure that everyone has an epi-pen and knows how to use it. Food will not touch our child’s lips without an ingredient check. The schools, our community and all society will be taught all proper safety procedures for our allergic child.

Now our child can grow up safe. Guess what? Not so. Running around our child like this sends a message of helplessness, panic and fear. Not only does it make us crazy, it can do the same to our child. It can even turn a small controllable allergic reaction into a five-alarm situation, if our child panics and thinks of death when having an allergic reaction.

So, how can we protect our child? Let’s start with the first thought- our primary job as a parents is NOT to protect our child from harm. Our primary job is to raise independent, productive members of society.

Now here are some tips to keeping your child safe without all that hovering.

  1. Remember that life and death is not in our hands. Okay, now repeat that. You know it’s true.
  2. Accept that you cannot fully protect your child. The reality is that we don’t have ultimate control.
  3. Protect your child behind the scenes. When you point out a person’s frailty repeatedly in front of them, you take away their strength and ability to be independent. They think that without you they cannot function- they cannot be productive. So, do what you need to, behind the scenes- don’t let your child know of every action you take to protect them. Raising a child is about them- not you.
  4. Teach your child to protect themselves. From the minute your child can talk, he can speak up for himself. Teach your child to ask for what he can eat rather than provide an exhaustive list of what he can’t.
  5. Don’t expect your child to be equal. Yes, he may not have the snack that everyone else eats and he is hungry. Guess what? Your child just learned a lesson in independence. We don’t all have to be the same. Life isn’t fair.
  6. Focus on what your child can do. This will help you see your child in a different light and maybe along the way you’ll realize that he too has to ultimately live and grow without you.

You don’t have a child with allergies. You just have a child.