After Your Child’s Food Reaction: Diffusing Stress and Anxiety

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When a child has a food allergy reaction it is naturally stressful for both parent and offspring, and anxiety can linger long after the emergency has passed.

One of the best ways to alleviate stress and anxiety is putting that uncomfortable energy to creative use. Parents can do this following a food reaction - and turn the unwanted situation to their advantage - by making it a learning experience for all involved.

Here are five suggestions for transforming the aftermath of a scary reaction into an anxiety diffusing learning experience:

  1. If people other than yourself were involved in managing the reaction, let the other individuals know, if possible, how much you appreciate their efforts in caring for your child. Then, have a conversation with them about what went well, and what could be improved should a reaction occur again.
  2. In emergency situations adults tend to get excited and may raise their voice, bark orders, or cry. So, in the aftermath of a food emergency it is wise to reassure children they did nothing wrong, and that no one was or is angry with them.
  3. Children frequently have questions following a food reaction, and parents typically try to answer in a way their child can understand—but that is not always easy. It’s okay to tell a child you need time to think about their question, or want to consult with a doctor, before responding. Keep in mind that if children sense a certain issue makes their parents uncomfortable they might stop asking about it, and come up with their own, possibly anxiety producing, answers.
  4. Make an appointment to talk with your child’s doctor or allergist to review the reaction and make any necessary adjustments to your child’s emergency plan.
  5. Take time to relax, enjoy nature, and your personal interests. If the food reaction causes ongoing anxiety that interferes with your daily functioning at work or at home, consider joining a support group or seeing a mental health professional.

Source: Dr. M. Pistiner, pediatric allergist/Allergy Home Photo credit: Parker Knight

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