Posts Tagged: Guest Post

Back To School Tips For Kids With Allergies

A Guest Post by Karma Bryan-Ingle:

Karma’s son, Evan on his First Day of School

For most parents, back to school time comes with a bit of anxiety. All of the typical questions arise… Will my child have a teacher who is a good fit? Will he have friends in his class? Will he make new friends? But for me, this is the time of year when I start to think about what a potentially dangerous place school can be for my son. My son, Evan, suffers from life-threatening food allergies. And one accidental nibble of a peanut can send us rushing to the hospital.

Because I’ve known about Evan’s serious issue since before he was 3, I’ve developed some strategies to help manage his allergies at school:

  1. Evan has grown up knowing how serious his food allergies are and in fact, he remembers our first trip to the hospital and never wants to go through that again. We’ve always been very open with him about the dangers of his allergies and as a result, he has become his own biggest advocate! So, first and foremost, educate your child and empower them with this knowledge, no matter how young they are.
  2. Evan’s first school took his allergies very seriously. All of the teachers were aware of the severity and so were the children in his classrooms. What surprised me the most is how Evan’s friends also became his advocates and his caregivers! Remember that kids will look out for other kids.
  3. Talk to the school and the teachers. Find out about the policies they have in place for dealing with food allergies. Evan’s school posted an Anaphylaxis sheet in the classroom with his picture and details about his allergies. That way, if there was a supply teacher in the classroom, that information was readily available. They also had Evan wear a pack containing 2 Epi-Pens on him at all times, along with having an additional Epi-Pen on hand in the office. I knew that no matter where Evan was at any given time of the day, he’d have Epi-Pens with him and readily available.

This year, Evan is changing schools, so I’m feeling a bit more anxious than normal. I’m now preparing myself to learn the new policies and to educate his new school about his allergy symptoms and what to do should something happen.

So, if you’re a parent of kids with food allergies and you’re feeling anxious about sending them off, rest assured you’re not alone. My biggest piece of advice is that communication is the key to keeping your child safe.

I find one of the easiest ways to communicate to other kids and caregivers about your child’s allergies is by labeling food containers and lunch bags. So, we’re giving away a set of our Allergy Alert labels!

Leave a comment with your best tip for managing your kiddos food allergies for a chance to win a set of Allergy Alert Labels!


****Thanks for all your entries! This giveaway is now closed!****


Have Allergic Kid, Will Travel!

Guest Post by Mabel’s Labels Marketing & Communications Manager, Karma Bryan-Ingle

Having a child with life threatening food allergies makes everyday life just a little more scary for me. But when my son’s allergies were “discovered” (via an almost fatal trip to the ER at age 3), my husband and I decided that we were not going to let his allergies dictate the way he lives and the way he gets to experience life. I know everyone deals with this diagnosis differently and it’s a very personal decision, but this is how we choose to live.

So, I have always let Evan live like any other kid, but just a little more carefully and a whole lot more aware! He goes to birthday parties, he has sleepovers, he trick or treats at Halloween and he travels.  Birthday parties are easy for me… I get in touch with host parents in advance to discuss Evan’s allergies and ensure they are comfortable with feeding him. If they aren’t, I provide special snacks that I know are safe for him. I do the Epi-Pen drill with the parents at drop off and always make sure I am easily accessible. Halloween, while frightening, is manageable for us as well. We do a full sorting of the candy before Evan touches anything. In fact, he tends to sort himself as he’s collecting. He knows if someone gives him a bag of peanut M&M’s and he hands them over right away… most of the time they don’t even make it into the treat bag!

But when it comes to traveling, even I get terrified! To me there is nothing scarier than being in a confined space for a few hours, 30,000 feet in the air and someone pulling out a bag of peanuts in the seat behind us. Truly, just typing this makes my heart start to pound and my stomach do a back flip. But let me tell you, it can be manageable and I found out how on 2 recent vacations.

For Christmas 2011, we decided to take Evan to Disney. We were so excited about the trip, but this was going to be the longest flight we’d taken with him since his allergies came to light (we’d done small jaunts with him previously).  We were flying Air Canada so I called them up and they were great. They put on note on the file indicating his allergies and told me the flight crew would make an announcement onboard. And not only did they announce that there was a child on board with a life threatening nut allergy once we boarded, but they also announced it before boarding in the lounge and asked people not to bring anything on board with them. I thought this was terrific service and it did provide me with the comfort level I needed.

This past Christmas we travelled to the Caribbean. We had a 5 ½ hour flight so again, my anxiety levels were going up as the trip got closer. We were flying Air Canada again, so I called them to request the same service, but instead I got even better. AC now allows you to fill out paperwork, have your doctor sign it and then they create a file that stays in the system for 5 years. Now each time Evan flies, his reservation is tagged and they create a buffer zone for us on board. This means that when the plane has boarded, the flight crew speaks to the people seated in front of us and behind us to let them know that they are not to take any nut products out of their bags and that they won’t be selling any nut products in those rows. They also offer people to switch seats if they aren’t comfortable with the arrangement.

Let me tell you… this provided such peace of mind. And the passengers seated around us were all very accommodating. With the exception of one woman who still makes my blood boil 5 months later. When the flight attendant told her the deal, she said, in a very loud, rude voice “Are you kidding me? This is ridiculous!” (After I told her my kid could die if she pulled out some peanuts, she quickly kept her opinions to herself!)

I know my experience has only been with one airline, but I’m sure all major carriers would have a similar policy. After all, approximately 4% of children between the ages of 0-18 suffer from food allergies and in the US, every 3 minutes a food allergy reaction sends someone to the ER! Those are scary and alarming statistics for sure!

So, while Evan’s life threatening allergies are certainly scary, we have found a way to manage the fear to make sure he gets the most out of life. And I think this approach works well for our family. Evan understands the seriousness of his allergies, so he is careful, but at the same time, he’s living the life every 7 year old should!

Evan living life to the fullest!

Should A Pre-Schooler Be Made to Pay For Her Mistakes?

Imagine following a strange sound across your house only to discover your 4 year-old has tossed one of your books into the washing machine.  There it is, soaking wet, banging against the drum – ruined! You are shocked and upset.  What were they thinking?

As far as you can tell, she was just curious about the washing machine.  But, it also crosses your mind that she may have plunged the book to its death in retaliation to an early tiff you had.  The trouble is… you’re not really sure.

What is a parent to do when they don’t know if it is an accident or a stunt that requires disciplinary action? It would feel wrong to punish a child for an innocent mistake wouldn’t it?

The parenting paradigm that I teach is based on Adlerian Psychology. It argues against the use of punishments, which rely on fear to control a child’s behavior    Instead, the “democratic”, “ backbone” or “authoritarian” approach as it is some times referred to, focuses on an education approach to discipline.  In fact that is the root word “disciple” which means “to teach”.   Discipline without punishments is about educating the child about how life works, their freedom to make choices for themselves in society, but also (and equally important) holding them responsible for the choices they do make.

Whether the book was thrown in the washer as an accident, an experiment or a ploy to upset mom, the child is still accountable for their actions and needs to learn about the outcomes from making that particular choice.

Share with the child that even when accidents happen, things need to be replaced.  You can explain that from your perspective, you didn’t leave your book in the wrong place or anything, but now you have no book and it needs to be replaced. Ask if she has any ideas.  How can this situation be rectified?  Who does she think should pay for the new book?

Be sure to ask with true curiosity, so the child actually reflects on your question.  If you are angry and accusatory, your child will likely stop thinking and start defending their position instead.  Help them stay open by being calm and patient.

Ask them what they think should happen if the tables were turned, and you accidentally stepped on one of their toys and broke it?

Work together to strike up some arrangement together that makes sense to both of you.   Be creative, there is no one right perfect answer here.  For example, with small children who have little or no money, you may ask the child to make a financial gesture of some kind.  Perhaps they want to see if they have any money in their piggy bank.

I made my preschooler pay for the full amount of an aquarium ornament that she broke while shopping. She was about 4, but at that time, was getting a small allowance.  The arrangement we came up with together was to hold back half her weekly allowance until it was paid off.  We kept track of the debt reduction each week by posting a ledger on the family bulletin board.  Maybe it sounds cold hearted, but at the age of 4, money holds little true value (they are not Jonesing to go shopping at Aritzia yet), but symbolically it represents a lot.  She didn’t really miss that half of her allowance too much, but she sure did know she was clearing her debt and making good on her responsibilities. She felt really proud of herself when she made her last payment and was debt free with a clear conscience.   From that time forward, she has been very careful with breakables, and all her responsibilities come to think of it!  Co-incidence?  I think not.


About the Author:

Alyson Schaffer

Alyson Schaffer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t MIsbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at

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