Managing Anxiety & Feeling in Control

As a parent it is very common to feel worried about your child having an allergic reaction.25 This concern can help to motivate you and your family to learn how to manage food allergies.26 With the right information, you begin to understand the possible risks for your child and how to reduce them.  This helps to keep your anxiety under control so that you can help your child feel confident about managing allergies.  Here are some things to keep in mind.

Get the facts.  If you are not sure about the level of risk in a certain situation, talk to your child’s doctor, patient organization or a local support group.  If you don’t have the facts, it is easy to worry and difficult to find solutions.

Remember that ups and downs are normal.  It is normal to experience some anxiety after major life changes, including when your child is first diagnosed with a food allergy or when they start a new activity, such as entering childcare, starting school or going to a friend’s home.  You will learn to find routines that keep your child safe and work for your family.

Find a support group in your area.  Allergy support groups can provide valuable information and understanding and show you that other families are successfully living with allergies.

Remember that your child learns from you.  When your words and behaviour show that you are confident, your child will feel the same.  Try not to use words that can scare your child such as describing them as “deathly allergic” or saying “this food can kill my child”.   Instead, talk about the fact that food allergies can be managed.

The lessons you teach your child when they are young will help them to self-manage as they get older.

Empower your child.  Increase your child’s sense of control by involving them in managing their allergy.   Help them build their skills, such as reading food labels and learning how to use their auto-injectors.

Prepare your child for new situations.  Visit new places ahead of time and introduce your child to the adults who will take care of them.  Tell your child about plans to keep them safe, including emergency steps.

Problem solve with your child.  If your child is worried about a situation, talk to them about their concerns and ask them what they and others could do to help.  For older children, writing the plan down may make it feel more “official.”

Be available for difficult conversations.  If your child thinks that a topic is off limits or makes you feel uneasy, they may not talk to you.  Sometimes they fill in the details with their imagination, which can be more frightening than reality.

If you or your child is feeling increased anxiety, talk to your doctor. They may refer you to a specialist who can help you develop coping strategies that work for you.

25. Cohen, B.L., Noone, S., Munoz-Furlong, A. and Sicherer, S.H. “Development of a questionnaire to measure quality of life in families with a child with food allergy.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 114 (2004): 1159-63.

26. Mandell, D., Curtis, R., Gold, M., and Hardie, S. “Families coping with a diagnosis of anaphylaxis in a child. A qualitative study of informational and support needs.” Allergy & Clinical Immunology International – Journal of the World Allergy Organization 14 (2002): 96-101.



The information in this handbook is for educational purposes only. It is meant to help people learn how to manage a child’s allergies. It is not meant to give specific medical advice, recommendations, diagnosis, or treatment.

Readers should not rely on any information contained in this handbook as a replacement or substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis or treatment. Nor should they delay getting professional medical advice or treatment because of information contained in this handbook. Medical knowledge is constantly developing.

Please speak with your child’s doctor or other healthcare professional before making any medical decision that affects your child or if you have any questions or concerns about their food allergies.

The authors of this handbook – Michael Pistiner, Jennifer LeBovidge and Anaphylaxis Canada – as well as individual contributors and reviewers will not be held responsible for any action taken or not taken based on/or as a result of the reader’s interpretation (understanding) of the information contained herein.

Please note that AllergyHome is not affiliated with Boston Children’s Hospital

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