Edit the Scary Movies: It’s natural to think back to the scene of your child’s reaction, but replaying it over and over can make you feel worse. Some of us create an even scarier version, with a fatal outcome. We ask, “What if. . .?” When you find yourself “going there”, stop and do something completely different: Call a friend, exercise or take a shower (OK, chocolate works too).
If a physical distraction isn’t possible, switch to a memory that warms your heart, such as your child’s first steps or your wedding day. Eventually the inclination to go back to the traumatic event will fade away.
Converse Cautiously: During severe reactions, children may experience a sense of impending doom. In the aftermath, this may prompt them to ask hard questions, such as “Can I die from my food allergies?” Experts tell us that kids ask these questions when they’re ready for the answers. Still, it’s important to tread lightly and answer in an age-appropriate and reassuring way.
The Grace of Warning: Though I don’t recommend placing blame, sometimes a reaction will point out areas where we may have been lax. In my case, I had relied on the outside wrapper of a bag of Halloween candy rather than checking the ingredients on the individual package. My son’s reaction reminded us to maintain a healthy respect for his diagnosis.
Flex Your Courage Muscles : Most of us are not medical professionals, so we doubt our ability to know how to treat a severe reaction. Fortunately, many parents do get it right – and end up feeling much more confident after treating anaphylaxis.
Flaunt that can-do attitude. It shows our children that food allergies are manageable and helps them believe that someday they’ll safely handle them, too.
Gina Clowes is a certified life coach specializing in the needs of parents of children with food allergies. She is the founder and director of AllergyMoms.com, an online support group serving thousands worldwide.
First published in Allergic Living magazine.
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