Your Child and Food Allergy Fear and Anxiety
WHEN Daniel Burrow read about teenager Sabrina Shannon’s tragic death from anaphylaxis, he became frightened. Daniel, who was 10 at the time, began having imagined reactions.
His mother, management consultant Helen Handfield-Jones, recalls that she and her husband would speak calmly to the boy, who is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and lactaid pills, asking whether he had eaten anything suspicious and assessing the risk.
“We would say, “You say your lips feel funny, but do you have any other symptoms? Does your stomach hurt?” If there were no other symptoms, they would tell Daniel it was likely a false reaction arising from fear. They assured him that they would watch closely for other symptoms.
Right in line with the “safety net” approach, his mother would say, “let’s also check to confirm all our backup protection is in place: we have two EpiPens, we can get to a hospital if we need to.” The anxious phase lasted about eight months. Three years later, Daniel is doing much better and feeling more confidence. “I’m in a good place,” he says.
That good place is where allergic kids want to be. Should a child have to fear his or her own mortality? No, they shouldn’t. The road to reducing fear and anxiety may be winding, but the experts say to stay with the journey and most families will get past the bumps and detours. Still, if you and your child are finding your lives too affected by allergy stress, don’t be shy about seeking the help of an anxiety expert.
Garland reminds that some kids will have the temperment that’s predisposed to worrying, “and if we can give them some coping skills as a child, they can cope with anxiety better throughout life.”