Back to school tips for Parents
- First you really need talk to your child’s teacher and school administrators about your child’s Food Allergies. How to start is with a letter from your child’s Allergist or Doctor explaining the allergies and any restrictions your child may have.
- Then by. using the recommendations from your child’s Allergist or Doctor, create a Food Allergy Action Plan to help document your child’s allergies and also how your child needs to be treated for allergic reactions.
- Find out if your state and/or school district has a Food Allergy policy. If so, you may still need to add other accommodations to keep your child safe and included. If they do not have a written policy, you will want to work with your child’s teacher and school Administrators to determine how your child will be accommodated and how to minimize the risk of exposure to your child.
- Ask to review classroom supplies, including materials for Art and Science projects and find out if the teacher will be using any type of food rewards.
- There is often much more food at school than most adults realize. Discuss how your child can be kept safe and included during snack time, lunchtime, birthday celebrations, classroom parties, field trips, assemblies or school wide activities.
- There must always be an adult trained in recognizing and treating allergic reactions available to assist your child. Make sure that your child’s medicine is quickly accessible in an unlocked location.
- An anaphylaxis drill is a terrific idea for training others in an emergency where quick action can save lives. Emergency procedures for areas outside the classroom such as recess, the bus ride and field trips should also be discussed and agreed upon.
- Some parents like to send in a “safe snack” box for their child in the event that an unsafe treat is being served to the other students. You can keep safe candies, chocolate bars, cookies and a few safe juice boxes there for these occasions.
- Better yet, encourage snacks and treats that allow all children to be served and included. All kids want to be “One of the Gang.”
Back to School Tips for the Classroom
- If you’re sending food for the class to share, check with the teacher first. Keep in mind that it’s probably best to send in a pre-packaged product with an ingredient label. Food Allergies can result in serious and even fatal reactions caused by tiny amounts of everyday foods. Home baked goods are usually not an option for food allergic children.
- If certain foods are restricted from the classroom, carefully read all labels and make sure to abide by these guidelines. Some allergic children can react to just contact with their allergens. In addition, children can pick up traces of allergens and then put their fingers in their eyes or mouth. This is enough to cause a reaction in some allergic children.
- Never use “common sense” to determine if a food is safe. Candy can contain milk, egg, wheat, peanuts or nuts. Pie crusts, granola bars and ice cream can contain egg, nuts and peanuts. Even jelly beans can contain peanut flour.
- Consider sending in “safe” treats or snacks so that every child in the classroom can partake in birthday celebrations or classroom parties. All kids love goodies and it’s very hard to be the little guy or girl who never gets to have a birthday cupcake.
Back to School Tips for Teachers
- Set the stage for inclusion. Make sure that birthday celebrations, classroom parties and school wide activities include safe foods for all classmates.
- Consider keeping the classroom free of the allergens for that class. After all, the purpose of school is learning and it will be so much easier for you and your food allergic students when you do not have to fear contact or cross-contamination reactions.
- Enforce a “no sharing food” rule, especially if allergens are permitted in the classroom. Children are tactile, oral and socialized to share. Allowing allergens in the classroom can contaminate it and some allergens are so potent that even trace amounts can cause a reaction—especially when little fingers go into the eyes or mouth.
- Communicate with the allergy parents. Most allergy parents are more than willing to provide safe suggestions or alternatives for parties, crafts and more. If you have any doubt at all, call!
- Communicate with all the classroom parents. Without disclosing private medical information, you can still find ways to make sure that snacks and treats that come into the classroom can be shared safely. Focus on the food and drink that is safe. Plan your celebrations from there. Even with multiple food allergies, there are still plenty of delicious treats available to share.
How to deal with bullies
At Allergy free kids we want to look out for children. Children will have to deal with bullies. Either at school or at the park. So what is Bullying? Its a form of aggression, in which one or more children repeatedly and intentionally intimidate, harass or harm a victim who is perceived as unable to defend him or herself. Bullying can take many forms. For example:
Physical. This type of bullying includes hitting, tripping and kicking, as well as destruction of a child’s property.
Verbal. Verbal bullying includes teasing, name-calling, taunting and making inappropriate sexual comments.
Psychological or social. This type of bullying involves spreading rumours about a child, embarrassing him or her in public, or excluding him or her from a group.
Electronic. Cyber bullying involves using an electronic medium, such as email, websites, social media platforms, text messages, or videos posted on websites or sent through phones, to threaten or harm others.
If you think your child is being bullied, he or she might remain quiet out of fear, shame or embarrassment. So be on the lookout for these warning signs:
* Lost or destroyed clothing, electronics or other personal belongings
* Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
* Poor school performance or reluctance to go to school
* Headaches, stomach-aches or other physical complaints
* Trouble sleeping
* Changes in eating habits
* Distress after spending time online or on his or her phone
* Feelings of helplessness or low self-esteem
* Self-destructive behaviour, such as running away from home
If you suspect that your child is being bullied, take the situation seriously. Educate yourself about the emotional dynamics of shame and anger as they apply to teasing and bullying. Shame is a normal and powerful emotion that is poorly understood. Understand the pain of shame and the compelling need to belong and feel secure in a group that can make even gentle children tease or bully others and can make even the most talented and likeable potential victims. Here are some hints:
Encourage your child to share his or her concerns. Remain calm, listen in a loving manner and support your child’s feelings. Express understanding and concern. Remind your child that he or she isn’t to blame for being bullied. Find ways to talk about these painful emotions with your children. It’s best to do this before they go to school or get involved in many activities with peers outside your supervision. Books, movies, and shared stories about your experience as a child, as well as their experiences, can provide opportunities to talk about what is happening, and how they feel about it.
Learn about the situation. Ask your child to describe how and when the bullying occurs and who is involved. Find out what your child has done to try to stop the bullying, as well as what has or hasn’t worked. Ask what can be done to help him or her feel safe.
Teach your child how to respond. Don’t promote retaliation or fighting back against a bully. Instead, your child might try telling the bully to leave him or her alone, walking away to avoid the bully, ignoring the bully, or asking a teacher, coach or other adult for help. Suggest sticking with friends wherever the bullying seems to happen. Likewise, tell your child not to respond to cyber-bullying. If possible, use software to block the cyber bully. We teach our children to be brave in many ways. We teach them to be brave eaters, to try new foods and experiences. We teach them to be brave when going to the doctor if they are nervous about getting a shot. We praise them for their courage when they master their fear and shyness and try something difficult. Likewise, we can prepare them to stand up and face the shame that is the bully’s threat.
Feel their pain. You may have learned how to shrug off criticism. You may have forgotten the pain of teasing and bullying from your own childhood. But your child is going through it for the first time. If you minimise it by telling them to just ignore it, they will feel you don’t understand. Your child needs you to understand their pain in order to talk together about ways to solve the problem.
Talk to your child about technology. Make sure you know how your child is using the Internet, social media platforms, or his or her phone to interact with others. If your child is being cyber-bullied, don’t automatically take away electronic privileges. Children might be reluctant to report bullying for fear of having their cell/mobile phone or Internet privileges taken away. Your actions could prevent your child from telling you about a future incident.
Boost your child’s self-confidence. Encourage your child to build friendships and get involved in activities that emphasise his or her strengths and talents.
If your child admits to being bullied, take action. Here are some examples:
* Record the details. Write down the details — the date, who was involved and what specifically happened. Save screen shots, emails and texts. Record the facts as objectively as possible.
* Contact appropriate authorities. Seek help from your child’s principal, teacher or the school guidance counsellor. Report cyber-bullying to Web and cell/mobile phone/mobile service providers or websites. If your child has been physically attacked or otherwise threatened with harm, talk to school officials and call the police.
* Explain your concerns in a matter-of-fact way. Instead of laying blame, ask for help to solve the bullying problem.
Keep notes on these meetings. Keep in contact with school officials. If the bullying continues, be persistent.
Brainstorm together. You don’t have all the answers. Neither does your child. But together you are a powerful creative team. When your child is able to talk to you about the problem of teasing and bullying, you can shift toward generating ideas that might work. These ideas will be more acceptable if they don’t just come from you.
Introduce alternatives. One powerful idea you might introduce, if your child does not come up with it first, is the powerful “hero feeling” that comes from standing up for others. Somehow standing up for a younger sibling or even a smaller stranger allows a child to feel brave. It is a natural response and it counteracts shame. Helping another also makes it easier to ask for help for yourself when it is needed.
Emphasize non-violence and introduce non-violent heroes. It is not necessary to beat up a bully to win self-respect. It is only necessary not to give in to the feeling of shame. It may be dangerous to humiliate or defeat a bully. Standing up to the threat of shame and being brave does not require violence or physical strength. It requires emotional intelligence.
Talk to parents and teachers. Talk about the problem of teasing and bullying and the solution of resilience with teachers and other parents. The more resilient heroes we have on the playground the less vulnerable all our children will be.
Ask for a copy of the school’s policy on bullying. Find out how bullying is addressed in the school’s curriculum, as well as how staff members are obligated to respond to known or suspected bullying.
So we hope this helps with kids and bulling and remember if the bulling gets too much you can always contact the school counsellor.