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The 6 Stages of Allergy Parenting

Mom cooking with kids

[For more detailed information on each stage, check out The 6 Stages of Allergy Parenting Explained post after reading this one. You can also download the free, printable "6 Stages of Food Allergy Parenting" packet here.]


Have you ever noticed that so much of the parenting guidance out there is focused on what children are going through at each stage of their development? While that's helpful information for parents to know, it doesn't tell parents what THEIR parenting tasks are for each stage of their child's development.


That's where Ellen Galinsky's work comes in!  Her research led to the development of the Six Stages of Parenthood, which focuses on how parents develop at the same time their child develops. This framework helps parents understand if they're focusing on the appropriate tasks associated with their child's stage of development, are falling behind, or pushing too fast too quickly.


As with any guidelines, they're just that - guidelines. They're not hard and fast rules. However, I think we can all agree that parenting is hard, so any helpful guidance is welcome!


The Six Stages of Allergy Parenting

Adapted from Ellen Galinsky's work, licensed family therapist and founder of the Food Allergy Counselor Directory and website, Tamara Hubbard developed the Six Stages of Food Allergy Parenting after recognizing that food allergy parents could benefit from parenting guidance specific to allergy parenting and the associated emotional aspects.


The purpose of this framework is primarily to offer guidance related to the emotional and mindset aspects of allergy parenting, which is often overlooked in allergy parenting guidance currently available. It essentially offers parents a framework to help them develop their mindset and parenting choices for each stage of parenting, which directly impacts their child's ability to learn how to live confidently with allergies. While overall allergy management skills/goals are noted for each phase, the guidance is heavily infused with information related to the allergy emotional tasks helpful for parents to be aware of and/or develop during each stage. (For more information on what to teach your child at each stage of their development, check out this Allergic Living article).



How to Use this Chart: 

The information below explains each column in more depth: 

  • Stages: The names of each stage are from Ellen Galinsky's work. These titles are used to identify the period of time associated with the child's development but are instead focused on the parental growth process, which happens in tandem with the child's growth process.  

  • Acts As The... Tamara created these labels to help further illustrate a parent's role and goals for each stage.

  • Child's Age: Identifies the age and stage of the child's development.

  • Parents' Goals: Summarize the overall goals for parents for each stage of their child's development, based on Ellen Galinsky's research. 

  • Allergy Tasks: Summarize the overall allergy parenting task/focus for each stage of a child's development. Each stage builds upon the previous stages.

How This Framework Helps Allergy Parents: 

The Six Stages of Allergy Parenting offers allergy parents a framework to help them better understand how to parent an allergic child throughout the childhood, teen, and young adult years. More specifically, this guidance helps parents with:

  • Identifying When Emotions Are Getting in the Way: Offers the ability to identify if your own parental anxiety, fear, and overwhelm has actually stunted your child's ability to learn how to navigate life with their allergies OR has resulted in trying to teach your child too much, too quickly in order to calm your intense emotions.

  • Assessing Their Own Progress: Offers a way to more effectively assess whether you're on or off target with the main parenting focuses for each stage of development, as allergy parenting adds an additional layer to the mix.

  • Teaching Allergy Skills: Offers a look at the overall allergy management and allergy emotional skills you should focus on teaching your child at each stage. This is important because children learn through scaffolding, or building upon previously learned concepts. Therefore, it's helpful if their allergy AND emotional skills build throughout their development. For example, if a child reaches adolescence and is missing basic allergy management skills, it will be hard for them to reach adolescent goals, such as learning to take more responsibility for their safety and being away from home on their own. 

  • Checking For Emotional and Knowledge Gaps: Offers a framework to help see if you and/or your children need to revisit allergy emotional or allergy management skills. This can often be the case if the last allergic reaction happened many years ago, and you've become more comfortable managing allergies. It's helpful to do a quick check at the beginning of each stage of development to see if you need to revisit forgotten or lost skills from previous stages, fill any knowledge gaps, or assess emotional readiness.

Want More Specific Information on Each Stage? 

Check out this follow-up post: The 6 Stages of Allergy Parenting Explained


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