Transition to school anxiety for mothers of children with food allergy: Implications for educators

Prathyusha Sanagavarapu
Western Sydney University

Maria Said
Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia

Constance Katelaris
Western Sydney University
Campbelltown hospital

Brynn Wainstein
Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, Sydney

Parental concerns for the safety of their children with food allergy greatly increase once they reach ‘school age’, yet those concerns have not been investigated to date, despite the increasing attendance of children with food allergy in schools in Australia and globally. This pilot study explored 10 affected Australian mothers’ feelings and perspectives of their children’s transition to school.

The results from Photo Elicitation Interviews revealed that mothers were anxious, concerned about their children’s safety, and they perceived food allergy risks to be comparatively greater in schools than in prior-to-school settings, especially in the school playground. Mothers had a myriad of concerns relating to trusting and transferring the responsibility for their children’s safety to school staff, as well as to the children themselves. Additionally, they were concerned about other parents’ negative attitudes towards food allergy or affected children and families, and normalising children’s school life with food allergy. Although based on a small sample, the findings have important implications for educators to ease parental anxiety and facilitate their child’s positive start to school.

 

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood—Volume 41 Number 4 December 2016.

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