Certain life events – such as a new diagnosis or a recent reaction – can bring about a wide range of emotions including fear, anxiety, anger, loneliness and guilt. Acknowledging and responding to these emotions can be very helpful in managing them, and in managing your allergies.
New Diagnosis: Initial anxiety with a new diagnosis is normal, and can actually be a healthy part of the process of learning to manage food allergies. It can motivate you to learn what you need to know about steps to prevent reactions and responding in an emergency.
- Make a list of the questions that you have about your food allergies and how to manage them.
- Seek answers from reliable sources such as your allergist, or organizations
- Take what you have learned and put it into action, with a plan for managing allergies in various areas of your life (such as school, travel, dining out and family gatherings).
- Most people find that, with time, anxieties ease. As food allergy management becomes a part of daily living, you will feel more empowered, and less anxious.
- Talking to others who have had similar experiences (for example, other parents) can be extremely useful.
- If you feel anxiety has become a problem in your or your child’s life, it is important to seek help from a medical professional.
After a Reaction: After a serious reaction, there is a normal period of re-adjustment. It can have a significant impact on you and your family as you all make sense of what happened. It’s normal to worry about having another reaction, to feel upset or angry, or to feel alone, depending on what happened. Some children will feel fearful when they return to the place where it happened, or even start to worry that they are having another reaction.
- Talk about these feelings, and try to learn from your experience. For many, life soon gets back to normal after a reaction. However, if things are not getting better – and you or your child is feeling very anxious — talk to your doctor about a referral to specialist who can help with coping strategies.
For Parents: You are a role model for your child. Help your child to feel confident in daily life, and in managing his or her food allergies. Remember that your own emotional relationship towards allergies will influence your child. If you approach food allergies with strength and awareness, taking a “careful, not fearful” approach, you are setting an example for your child as he or she grows up and develops more independence.
- Be informed about food allergies, from reliable sources.
- Talk honestly with your child, even about tough topics.
- Work together as your child encounters new situations.
- Allow your child to take a role in problem-solving and to speak for him or herself whenever possible (for example, having them order their own food and ask questions at a restaurant).
Remember: when you feel empowered, so will your child.