Empowering your child with special nutritional needs

It’s important to take the time to talk to your child about their nutritional needs and to start this dialogue as early as possible. By educating your child, you will help them develop a healthy understanding of their own special nutritional needs and a sense of independence, which is an important stage of growing up.

Keep the following things in mind when you’re speaking to your child about their special nutritional needs:

  • Be positive - as you will know, children are incredibly perceptive! For example, the extra time it takes you to prepare their ‘special’ food can become obvious to them or alternatively they may wonder why no-one else has the same drink
  • Always listen - it’s important your child feels supported and knows they can ask you questions about their nutritional needs honestly. Try and have an open dialogue, encouraging your child by asking them what questions they have
  • Involve your child - when you’re preparing your child’s food, get them involved. Make it fun so it’s something they want to do. Ensure mealtimes are a family-wide activity so everyone feels involved
  • Role-play - children love to role-play and this can be a great way for them to learn how to handle their special nutritional needs. Role-play different scenarios that they may encounter and how best to manage them

Here are some tips to help guide those conversations:

  • Start with the basics. Make sure your child knows how and why they need to manage their special nutritional needs
  • Make it easy to understand and relevant to their world. Use simple terms and age-appropriate language
  • Allow time for your child to talk to you about their special nutritional needs, issues or concerns and answer questions they may have. They may want to go and see their healthcare professional to ask questions that you may find difficult to answer. Giving them this opportunity can enable them to feel more in control and help them take responsibility of their special nutritional needs

If you have any concerns, please discuss these with your healthcare professional.