How are food allergies, asthma, and/or eczema affecting your child's emotional well-being? It's difficult to know.
I recently was working with a second grade class and one of the activities we were working on was replying to pen pal letters. The children were supposed to include 2 new pieces of information about themselves. One girl immediately thought of sharing the fact that she has eczema, warts, and host of other health concerns, and wanted to know my opinion. I told her that I thought her pen pal would be interested in information about her interests or hobbies, or things she enjoys doing outside of school. I thought it was noteworthy that part of that child's identity, and obviously a big part, was her eczema. In fact, her mother had just come to school earlier that day to apply some ointment to the places where the eczema was worst.
It made me a little sad to think eczema plays such a large role in her life that that was what she was thinking of sending as a piece of information about herself. I know my own son is conscious of his health conditions as well. I don't want him to be defined by his food allergies, eczema or asthma. I don't want him to be "the allergy kid" or the "asthma kid". I think it is a juggling act (conscious or not) for parents of children with medical conditions. We need to take their conditions seriously of course, taking whatever measures are necessary for their care, but we cannot let the medical conditions consume us. I think for most parents, managing life with food allergies, asthma, eczema and whatever other conditions you may contend with, is just part of the routine. We're busy living life--doing homework and projects, playing, going out, and getting ready for the next day. We may not be aware of how large these issues loom in our child's mind.
One positive consequence from the increase in children with food allergies, eczema, and asthma is a growth in the number and variety of educational and fun resources for children with these conditions. The next post in this series will explore some of those resources.