No child wants to feel different from his peers. It is very important to fit in, and being the only gluten-free child in the classroom can potentially result in feelings of isolation. This is why it is really important for all the adults, involved in a child’s life, to help out.
Ways to do this include:
Educate the teacher and the other classroom students about why your child is unable to consume gluten. You want to emphasize that it is like any other medical condition, where gluten makes your child sick and hurts the insides of his body. You may even want to relate it to peanut allergies, which most children are aware of. You also want to explain that that is why your child is unable to accept food trades.
In addition, you want to educate all of them on non-food sources of gluten such as lip balm and play dough, for example.
It is also important to educate the teacher that just being in the presence of flour for paper mache projects is not safe for your child, as are some finger paints.
2. Keep a stash
Provide the teacher with a stash of gluten-free goodies for times when your child is unable to consume food items that are being prepared as part of a class project at school, or other unexpected events.
3. Send gluten-free goodies to school on holidays
During Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and other holidays, send your child to school with yummy gluten-free cupcakes and enough for his classroom peers and teacher. This way, your child is the hero for bringing in the goodies, and the children get to experience the same kind of food that your child eats.
4. Send extra snacks along in your child’s lunch
Although your child is not able to eat the food from other children, there is nothing wrong with classmates eating gluten-free foods that your child brings to school. Just like the gluten-free cupcakes mentioned above, you can also send your child to school with extra gluten-free snacks in his lunchbox from time to time. This way, he can share them with peers in his classroom. The other children then get to see that your child eats food that tastes good too, but your child stays safe in the process.
5. Purchase or prepare
Foods such as gluten-free pizza and gluten-free chicken nuggets can be purchased or prepared from scratch. These foods look like those that the other children eat, only they are gluten-free.
The more your child feels the same and others view him like he is, the more he will feel like he fits in.