I have made my child paranoid -what should I do?

Posted on: Wed, 02/04/2004 - 7:11am
AJSMAMA's picture
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Joined: 06/12/2002 - 09:00

My little boy (3 1/2 years old) doesn't want to go to preschool because he says that there "will be peanuts there."

I feel so terrible. I think I took the preparing him thing a little too far. I never wanted him to be frightened to go to school.

Since before he could talk I have talked about his allergy. For instance, I would repeat "this is safe " and "this is NOT safe" as we would go through the grocery store. Every commerical that comes on T.V for unsafe candy, I point out that it is not safe. I have talked at length about what will happen if he eats peanuts and how he must never touch them.

I just want him to be safe and now my heart is breaking all over again for him. How can I make this easier for him?

I have guaranteed that his classroom will be peanut free and even told him that I would not leave the school grounds (it is only for 2 hours twice a week). He is still very hesitant and thinks that "someone is going to sit next to him with peanut butter...."

Please help!

Jaime

Posted on: Wed, 02/04/2004 - 8:07am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

AJSMAMA, I don't think that you've made your son paranoid. I think you made him aware of his allergy the only ways you could at such a young age.
So, okay, now he's expressing a fear about going to pre-school because of a fear of peanuts. You've explained that the class will be "peanut free" and that you will stay at the school. I would just keep reiterating everything vocally with him as you have been in teaching him re his allergy.
I've found, along this PA journey, that my PA son has developed his own anxieties (if you will) about his allergy, his own comfort zone, etc. that doesn't have anything to do with me or what precautions I have put into place for him at school, etc.
There was the summer a couple of years ago where he was totally freaked out about his PA and I'd have to re-raise the thread to even find out why. He hadn't had a reaction, nothing strange had happened that I can remember, it just came into his brain to start being really anxious about his PA.
I think our children inherently learn how to protect themselves for when we aren't around. I don't know how to explain it.
I know that from the way I speak here, you would think that my son is a neurotic mess about his allergies, but you know what? ALL of the freaking out that I do about his PA, I do here. Jesse doesn't know when things have upset me 99.9% of the time. Honestly. I've posted about it all here instead and everyone here has helped me sort things out.
So, when he did become anxious a couple of summers ago, I knew it wasn't from *me* and how I deal with PA. I appear to everyone to be a really calm and quiet person and that's usually what's going on externally even if something is stressing me re PA. I didn't *make* Jesse anxious that summer, just as I didn't *make* him freak out at the Santa Claus Parade a couple of months ago.
Here's another thought and it may be off the wall, so bear with me. Could your son be using PA as an excuse not to leave you - i.e., separation anxiety?
Please don't think you've *made* your child anxious. Your child will deal with PA as he deals with it. I've found Jesse, for the most part, to be really calm and cool about his allergy and yet at other times, for whatever reason, I have seen him wig right out. I can't explain it, but I do know that it is separate from me.
Personally, I think you've done great as far as teaching a young child about his allergy. I remember doing the same thing with Jess, especially the TV commercial part. Or, I remember going into the grocery store when he was young (yes, I remember this one quite well and will tell you why in a minute) and asking him to show me what chocolate bars were safe and what ones weren't.
Why do I remember that one? Because we had been doing the point out the "safe" chocolate bars either the night before or the day that Nestle announced Smarties would no longer be safe (decision was reversed) and that really heightened the whole thing for me. What he had been pointing at within the last 24 hours suddenly wasn't going to be safe.
Keep talking, encouraging, and supporting your son and letting him know that he will be okay.
Jesse didn't experience separation anxiety with me at all. He walked into the school and didn't look back. No fear. No fear about his allergy. It was his sister Ember who had separation anxiety.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Wed, 02/04/2004 - 2:45pm
deegann's picture
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Joined: 07/27/2003 - 09:00

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[This message has been edited by deegann (edited February 09, 2005).]

Posted on: Wed, 02/04/2004 - 10:02pm
Donni's picture
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Joined: 11/06/2000 - 09:00

My DS did, and still does, have similar concerns about someone sitting next to him with peanut butter, someone touching him with peanuts, etc. After 3 years, I have learned that it's a "healthy" concern. He's very much aware of his allergies and the risks. Thus, he's been able to raise "red flags" to his teacher, lunchroom monitor, etc. and has stayed safe.
If you haven't already done so, tell your son what safety precautions and arrangements have been made--in language that he will understand. I did this with my son and you could see the relief in his face. I would also take him to meet each person (teacher, director, etc.) and tell him how that person is aware of his allergy and will help to keep him safe.
Why not stay in the classroom at first, gradually stepping out for longer periods of time? (Before class just tell your son that you might have to leave for a minute to go to the restroom or whatever excuse is appropriate so he won't worry when he sees you gone.) I'm sure that he will soon tell you that you don't have to be there.
Kids are amazing and as Alternative to Mainstream said, will adapt their own comfort zone just like we did...and will change it just like we do!

Posted on: Fri, 02/06/2004 - 12:38am
AJSMAMA's picture
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Joined: 06/12/2002 - 09:00

Thanks so much for the reassurances and advice. It was very helpful.
Jaime [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Posted on: Fri, 02/06/2004 - 9:43am
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Joined: 06/20/2001 - 09:00

I think you have done a good job making your son aware of his allergies. I also worry about making my son too anxious. One thing you might want to do (and that I need to work with my son on) is what to do if there is peanut present. That way, he can feel more comfortable handling it if it does happen (e.g., tell the teacher, leave the area). Maybe that would decrease the anxiety a little?

Posted on: Thu, 02/12/2004 - 7:25am
becca's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I do the same things for my dd. Fortunately for us, the real danger"reality" washes over her. I have the opposite problem. She has no recollection of her reactions and they were relatively mild, as opposed to emergent crises. She will sometimes play that she has peanut food or eggs and say, "This has eggs in it!" as she plays. Sort of a shock value thing for me. I try to teach her the allergies could make her very sick and it is not a joke. Please do not joke about it.
However, I have recently wondered if she might be having a little anxiety about it now. She frequently asks if things are safe and I always find it great. But the other day, she asked me for a chip, but said, "Is it safe?" I said, "You can have one honey." She repeatedly asked me if it was safe before having one. I had not answered "yes, it is safe." I realized, she was afraid to eat it from even me, until I said it ws safe. I could tell she was nervous, even with me. I had a twinge there, wondering if she might have some repressed anxiety over it. I hope not.
Preschool can be scary on amny levels for kids. Many fear going and have a hard adjustment. Maybe this is your son's thing to latch onto, yet he is truly insecure about the whole preschool leap in a bigger way? Is he unnaturally(for lack of a better way to put it) afraid of peanuts anywhere else? This might be a good indication. becca

Posted on: Mon, 03/22/2004 - 3:35am
LaurieI's picture
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Joined: 04/04/2002 - 09:00

I think you are doing a great job. These kids need to be a bit wary. As they get older, they need to pay attention to what is going on around them. We can't put our complete trust in the other adults around them to keep them safe. They need to learn coping skills to keep themselves safe.
When my daughter was in preschool, She brought a safe snack from home in a cool lunchbox. I checked the group snack before leaving and let her and the teacher know which one she would be eating before leaving. I tried not to make this a big deal. It was just part of the routine. I think it made her feel as if she had some control.

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