Talking Allergies

My daughter and her peanut allergy
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Author:  mstuart [ Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:18 am ]
Post subject:  My daughter and her peanut allergy

My daughter is 6 yrs old and has a peanut allergy. She recently has been afraid to eat. She is picking at her food and always asking me and everyone around her if they ate a peanut! I can tell she feels very uncomfortable when my husband and I try to kiss her or hug her. She's starting to wipe her mouth after we kiss her good night b/c she's so scared! It makes me so sad and all i do is cry when she's not in the room. what should I do, will this get better?

Author:  _Susan_ [ Sun Aug 03, 2008 11:27 am ]
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Monica, my heart goes out to you and your daughter. 6 years old is an age where the imagination is rampant and ones thougths are not yet under control (at least in my house this is the way) 6 year olds can see monsters under the bed and so the thought of an anaphylaxis reaction is very very scary.

First of all, yes, it does get better. It will take some time and a lot of label reading. The first year os the worst because each new situation brings new fears and more planning. Read some but don't feels you have to know everything now. Get your homebase as safe as possible so that you have a sanctualry at the end of the day. Some breathing space, so to speak.

How did you become aware of her allergy? Was it through a very bad reaction? It may still be fresh in her mind. Read some of the other threads in the parenting forum and you will see that you are not alone.

Talk to your daughter about her fears and let her know what she and you can do to avoid her biggest fear.

I have to remind my daughter that if she started to have a reaction, I would not just watch but I would actually give her the needle. She sometimes forgets that we have tools to stop the reaction.

Give her and yourselves some time to come to terms with this work with her at her level. Don't force her to kiss someone she isn't comfortable and don't take it personally if the person is you. A hug goes a long way. Let her help in preparing food so thatshe knows it's safe. Stick to the basics: meat, veggies and cooking from scratch. Check out the shopping section for products that might be suitable for your daughters diet.

Glad you found us!

Author:  mstuart [ Tue Aug 05, 2008 1:52 am ]
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Thank you so much for your email. It was very helpful. Gabriella had her first reaction to peanuts when she was 19mo old. We were in Tahoe w/ friends and there were peanuts on the table and she wanted to eat them. I didn't think it was a big deal, honestly being a first time mom, i didn't know you should not give them to a 19 mo old.
Anyhow, it started with her eyes, they became very itchy and swollen, then the rest of her face and ears became very swollen, red, itchy. She didn't stop breathing "thank god" and we got her to the hospital right away. That was her only reaction. I've been very careful w/ reading all labels and with what she eats.

Gabriella knows she is allergic to peanuts and all tree nuts and we never had a problem
with her being so scared and paranoid. This has been going on for 1week. After receiving your email made me look at the whole situation differently and I feel much better about things, thank you. I am not letting her questions bother me and I am answering them very calm, I am teaching her how to read food ingredients, she's been preparing her meals with me and she loves that. I can tell she is still very nervous when eating her food but i've been playing cards w/ her while eating "go fish" so she is occupied on something else beside the peanuts, that helps tremendously.

I will keep my fingers crossed and hope this is just a phase she is going through.

How old is your little one?

Author:  _Susan_ [ Tue Aug 05, 2008 6:38 am ]
Post subject: 

Monica, my daughter is almost 7 so I can honestly say I've been there and done that!
Her helping with food preparation will help in many ways self esteem , a sense of control over her environment, some understanding of food handling/preparation(which is helpful when dining out), it helps with hand and eye coordination, understanding science experimentayion, patience and helps develop math techniques such as fractions.

We have also made collages out of what she can't eat (helpful in recognising the allergens) and collages of what she can eat (helpful in recognising that there is a lot she can still eat).

My goal right now is to not make food a power struggle.

You've been dealing with her food allergy for seevral years but now it is becoming more of an issue. Could it be that she is developing more understanding about concepts such as life and death or noticing how she is different? I matter of factly point out to my daughter how everyone has things that they are good and and things they are not so good at. Most people have a body flaw-it's what makes us human. The nice thing about food allergies is that you can avoid what makes you sick, unlike most health conditions. This can be a comforting thought to a 6 year old.

Author:  AnnaMarie [ Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:57 pm ]
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Is she in school or daycare where maybe someone said something to her? Could have been teasing or bullying -- or it could have been a competely innocent remark that might have upset her.


I was actually surprised to find out that when ds was 6 he actually still remembered some of what happened when he had his allergic reactions. (One at about 1 1/2, and one at about 2 1/2.)

Author:  mstuart [ Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:16 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hello again,
I think this all started when we went to visit some family 2 wks ago. Gabriella's little cousin was eating a "snickers" and was waving it infront of her face. She was very very upset. So were my husband and I!! Also, Gabriella and her brother were watching "Meet the Robinson's" and she said there was a little boy eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and when he took a bit into his sandwich the peanut better squirted everywhere, onto his friend and the boy was allergic so he started swelling up!
I can see why she's reacting this way and very scared! I think she's starting to really understand her allergy now and understands that she can get very sick if she eats one! I'm sure she thinking about dieing too. She's at that age where she's asking lots of questions and understanding everything. Things have been getting a little better. She's still asking lots of questions like "is there peanuts in this food, how do you make it, etc." but thanks to you, i've been very understanding, very calm, and try to make her feel very comfortable when she's eating. Thats helped us a lot!

Author:  _Susan_ [ Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:25 pm ]
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Yes, we watched the Bratz movie (or maybe it was Cheetah Girls) and there was a school scene with a food fight. Most kids think this is funny, but it isn't funny to a child with food allergies.

We talked about it and I told my daughter that if a food foght ever broke out she should hide under the table and keep her mouth shut. I told her that she might get a hive, but that she'd have to eat the food to have an anaphylaxis reaction. (not sure if that was correct information, but she seemed to accept that she had options)

We're reading the Laura Ingals Wilder stories (Little House on the Prairies), the fact that these children dealt with bears and wolves and still seemed ot have a happy care free life as well as the fact thatthey had to make most of their own candy etc, too seems to make my daughter feel better.

Author:  ethansmom [ Thu Aug 07, 2008 9:17 am ]
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I hope your daughter begins to feel herself again soon!

Author:  gwentheeditor [ Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:28 pm ]
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Welcome to the forum. This whole area of children with allergies, transitions with age, and their fears, especially about dying, is a complicated and important parenting challenge. Thought I should point out that Allergic Living wrote an indepth article on the subject back in the spring.

There's an excerpt here:

We go on to speak to experts in child psychiatry, and I think they bring forward some interesting points and strategies. I'd recommend that issue. (It can be purchased online if you click through on the link at the bottom of the excerpt).

Anyway, it was fascinating to report on this topic, and some of the parents definitely made progress.

All the best with your daughter. I've even had occasional fear of food moments as an adult with allergies, so I definitely relate to the fact that it's not easy stuff, especially not for a child.

Author:  kmommy [ Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:33 pm ]
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This is where I actually feel very lucky (if you can call it that) that both my son and my husband have food allergies, not the same of course, but they both have allergies. If our son (age 6) ever has any fears, questions, or concerns he can talk to his daddy about them.

Author:  _Susan_ [ Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:20 pm ]
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Yes, it helps when you have actually walked in the same shoes.
It also helps your son to see that his father manages his allergies, has grown up, is healthy and thriving.

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