When a child receives a food allergy diagnosis, it's common for parents to feel overwhelmed. Worrying thoughts may fill parents' minds with doubt and concern about how (and if) they will be able to prepare their food allergic child well enough to navigate this world on their one day.
It's important for parents to remember that time plays a key factor here!
It takes 9 months for a baby to develop and be ready for the outside world.
A kindergartner has over a decade of schooling to prepare himself/herself for college or work.
Similarly, food allergic kids acquire their skills over time, learning and applying them during each phase of development.
GALINKSY'S SIX STAGES OF PARENTHOOD
The childhood stages of development can provide parents with benchmarks to help assess their own child's growth and progress. While this is useful information, it doesn't necessarily help parents understand their role at each stage of development.
Ellen Galinsky, president and cofounder of the Families and Work Institute, conducted research that led to the development of the six stages of parenting. These six distinct stages offers parents a framework to help them understand not only what's happening during that age range, but what their tasks and goals might be.
Taking this information one step further, I created the image below as part of a food allergy parenting webinar I presented in 2019, which includes a basic overview of the food allergic parent's tasks for each stage of parenthood. Additionally, I added descriptive titles (in bold) for each stage to help highlight the parenting role for each stage.
how is a parenting framework helpful?
While the parental task list in the previous image seems simplistic, and certainly would include more than is listed above, this framework can help parents assess things such as:
A framework such as this is a helpful reminder that as parents, the goal isn't to teach kids every skill they need right away. A child's age, stage of development, and personality helps guide when and how to teach necessary life skills.
It's also a reminder that what parents teach their children in one stage sets the foundation for teaching the skills within the next stage of development and parenting. Kindergarteners managing food allergies build upon the basic skills parents have taught them as preschoolers. Food allergic high schoolers are learning additional skills and practicing strategies needed for them to develop into young adults that know how to manage their own healthcare needs.
So remember parents....
Rome wasn't built in a day, nor is a fully-prepared young adult managing their food allergies. Use the gift of time and reminders of your parenting role at each stage of your child's development to help guide your skill-building activities.....and hopefully help your worried mind believe that you can do this!
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