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Tell all adults in your child's life. continued...

This is especially true if children aren't comfortable going to an adult for help, Szychlinski says. Then, they need to be watched more closely. The bottom line: When a child is out of the care of parents, a severe allergy becomes a group responsibility, she says.

What information is important for people to know? Start with this:

  • Your child's allergy triggers
  • The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction
  • Where to store an epinephrine auto-injector
  • How to administer the epinephrine injection
  • When to call 911

 

Put it in writing.

Write down your emergency action plan and share it with all involved adults. Every adult that is responsible for your child should support the action plan.

For example, if a young child starts to eat something at a friend's house, an adult who knows about your plan should say, "Let's ask mom or dad if you can eat that,” Szychlinski says.

Children should carry two epinephrine injection kits and may be able to give themselves an epinephrine injection if they are old enough. They should still have a backup, such as a classmate, who knows how to do it, too. "It's like swimming with a buddy," Szychlinski says. The backup person should be someone who isn't skittish about needles or injections.

Model a "can-do" attitude.

How you react to your child's severe allergy will set the stage for how your child responds, says Szychlinski. Sadness, anger, and frustration are normal reactions, but if that's all your child sees, then his allergy may become a burden.

"Kids need to accept this as a normal part of life," Szychlinski says. It may help to bring your child to school meetings where you discuss your child's allergy with teachers, nurses, or administrators. But if you do that, make sure you set a positive tone, rather than portraying the allergy as a problem.

Rehearse and remind.

You can also help your child by role-playing. Role-play how to respond if she starts to have an allergic reaction or displays symptoms of anaphylaxis.

As with other life skills, children may need an occasional reminder about anaphylaxis symptoms. Don’t scare them, but make sure the risk is not "out of sight, out of mind."