Supporting your child to manage their food allergies

Hearing or reading about allergy related incidents in the media can be really difficult, especially if you are the parent or carer of someone with a food allergy.

Sometimes this news can intrude into your daily life with little or no warning, for example when you’re scrolling through social media. Even if you are prepared for what you see, it can be difficult to switch off or to stop yourself from going over and over thoughts of “what if?” related to your own circumstances.

We asked Clinical Psychologist Dr Karen Murphy for some tips on how to cope if it all feels too much.

Dr Murphy says:

  • Acknowledge how you are feeling and be compassionate to yourself – it is understandable that reading distressing articles may increase feelings of anxiety or sadness. 
  • If you do notice that articles are increasing difficult feelings, limit your exposure to these. It may be that you disconnect from the news or unfollow an account if it is triggering these feelings.
  • Our brain is great at creating hypothetical (‘what if’) situations that may arise. Shift your focus to elements you can control such as your behaviour and the steps you take to navigate living alongside an allergy.
  • If your child asks questions about an article or social media post – keep your response developmentally appropriate and normalise how they are feeling. Offer them a safe space to talk about their experience. You may not have all the answers and that is ok.

If you feel you need further support, the charity Mind has suggestions to help you access other services.