Recognize the new challenges a food allergy presents, acknowledge family feelings and different perspectives about the situation, and then agree on some basic safety rules.

Separate your emotions from the task at hand and tackle challenges one step at a time.

Ask yourself what you could add or take away from a situation that would create an acceptable level of risk. For example, if your child’s class has special snacks every Friday, consider volunteering to bring in the snacks or giving your child a safe snack he or she can eat along with everyone else.

Have alternative foods ready for your child in eating situations. This makes a big difference in how involved your child can still feel in the activity, such as going to a restaurant or a picnic, even if he or she is eating something different from the other kids.

Accept that there will be disappointments for your child, such as the ski trip one boy had to miss because his mother determined a hospital wasn’t close enough to be of help if a severe reaction were to occur.

Let your child and others be involved in your decision-making process to enhance everyone’s understanding and awareness.

Convey that you think your child is 98 percent the same as any other kid, and other children and parents will come to believe this, too. The necessary safety precautions will, in time, become second nature to everybody.

—K.M.

Source: Lisa Cipriano Collins, a marriage and family therapist (MFT) and author of Caring for Your Child with Severe Food Allergies (John Wiley & Sons, 1999).