Having a kid with a food allergy is very stressful for both parents and the kid, which sometimes ends up with the parents feeling paranoid.
My niece Anaya has multiple food allergies that are very hard to control. When she was younger, around one or two years of age, they often made trips to the emergency room. There was one time when she had three anaphylactic attacks around the holiday season. I witnessed how my sister and her husband were rocked to the core. My sister developed severe anxiety, and I often saw her crying out of pity for her sick child. She would worry that just one bite of the wrong food will end her daughter’s life. She even gave up her job just to be on Anaya’s side day in and day out.
Kid’s Anxiety And Poor Quality Of Life
The situation is also hard for the kid suffering from allergy. A study revealed that children with a peanut allergy tend to have a lower quality of life than children who are suffering from type 1 diabetes.
Anxiety and stress levels of children with allergies are higher because of limitations in social activities, fear of eating out, and fear of hazards in their surroundings limiting their physical activities.
Psychologists say that there are kids who had developed a fear of food due to fear of anaphylactic attack. Some no longer trust even their own mother’s cooking and also constantly check the packaging themselves for possible allergens. It happens because of their fear of dying if they accidentally eat nuts or other allergens.
This scenario then caused the parents to suffer from guilt feelings.
What Can Be Done To Fight The Anxiety?
According to a social worker who conducts counseling for families with kids who have food allergies, the concern is the level of anxiety because allergies can affect the child’s confidence and how he will live his life.
There are some ways, which according to psychologists, can be done to help the kids and parents fight their anxiety.
Talk the kids out of their fears. Find out what the child is afraid of and talk about those fears openly. Share some tips for the kid and the parent to feel more secure in dealing with allergy in their day to day lives.
Reduce anxiety. Because of too much anxiousness, some kids refuse to eat even the food that they are not allergic to, which is called as avoidance coping. To overcome the child’s fear, doctors use relaxation techniques and then use problem-solving methods to teach the child to differentiate good foods from bad foods. They make a list of food the child eats and where he usually eats and rank them according to how scared he feels about them. Showing this to the kid makes him more comfortable in eating foods which he previously avoided and becomes open to eating in other places.
Have An Allergy Talk With Your Kid. Psychologists say that children feel more comfortable and less stressed when they know things about their allergy, what things they should do in case of emergency, what other people around them must do in case of an attack. Role-playing or make-believe plays can help the child understand things easier. It gives the child more confidence when the actual thing happens, and at the same time will make him more careful and cautious.
Let Your Child Be In Control. As your kid grows up, let him experience what normal kids do. Allow him to go on sleepovers, join field trips, go out with friends, etc. It will allow him to be more responsible for himself, and he will be more open to talking to others about his food allergy. Allow him to grow up with the awareness of the possible dangers of his condition, even the possibility of death. He will be more responsible for making sure that he is in control of his allergy.
Fatalities are rare when talking about food allergies, and most cases of deaths are due to not being able to receive epinephrine immediately or not given at all.
It is important to remind yourself and your kids always that a food allergy is something that is manageable. Your kid can live a normal life as other regular kids do. He just has to be extra careful and watch the food he is allergic to.
Be more confident in getting yourself and your kid educated on how to handle the allergy and allergy attacks properly.
If you still don’t feel confident about your kid’s situation and it’s worsening your anxiety, better seek the help of a psychologist so he can present you with techniques on how to deal with the anxiety. Do see the allergist to properly test you kid if this is one cause of your trouble.