Information and advice for a parent or carer of a child living with allergy

Parent of a 5 to 11 year old

Starting primary school, changing classes, or even a change in routine, can cause some anxiety for children. If your child’s also living with an allergy, these changes might feel overwhelming and leave them worried about how their condition might be affected. If you notice that your child’s behaviour has recently changed or is more erratic than usual, they may be experiencing anxiety.

Changes of behaviour to look out for:

  • Becoming more irritable, angry and/or tearful
  • Has recurrent tummy aches or headaches
  • Exhibits obsessional behaviours, especially before certain situations
  • Develops problems with sleeping
  • Sudden bedwetting after a long period of dryness

Anxiety and stress can also cause allergy symptoms to worsen e.g. it’s common to find that your child’s asthma or eczema worsens during times when they feel stressed or worried.

If you’re concerned, discuss this with your GP or practice nurse, who will be able to offer support and advice.

It’s a good idea to also speak to your child’s teacher to find out what behaviours they observe in class. If they agree that your child might need some extra support, they might suggest speaking to the schools Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO).

To help your child take control of their anxiety, you could:

  • Teach them how to deal with stressful situations and offer lots of reassurance.
  • Practice relaxation techniques e.g. deep breathing, five senses technique, taking themselves to a safe place in their mind and relaxing using a hobby or sport they enjoy.
  • Encourage your child to learn more about their own allergies i.e. understand what their triggers are and how to avoid or manage the symptoms. Always be guided by your child’s level of understanding and development.
  • Encourage carers to discuss things in a positive way e.g. when a child is itching don’t say ‘stop scratching’, ask ‘is there anything I can do to help?’. Keep practising different situations with them, the more it’s practised, the more it becomes habit and part of daily life.
  • If they’re living with food allergy: Practice eating out in different situations and reading food labels, encourage your child to confidently explain their allergies to others. Support them on how to say no and not being afraid to speak up, such as saying no in a café, or when a friend offers them their food. Encourage your child to order from a menu when out for a meal and to explain their allergy to friends, family and even waiting staff under your guidance.
  • Remain positive and calm even when things don’t go to plan, children notice stresses and anxiety.
  • Acknowledge the small wins, praise your child and yourself.
  • There are some fantastic children’s story books available to help them understand and deal with anxiety, you could ask your child’s teacher or doctor for recommendations.

Remember: It’s important for skills and confidence to be gained naturally, without pressure, and not forced. Children develop at different times, and some may take longer to feel comfortable or understand how to talk about themselves, their needs, or their allergies.

Additional Resources

Childhood allergies: Understanding anxiety

Childhood allergies: Understanding anxiety

This factsheet explores the vicious cycle of anxiety, how to manage the physical sensations of anxiety and the link between our thoughts, behaviours and feelings when coping with allergy.

Sanofi UK has provided a financial contribution to the production of this digital destination but has had no editorial input into the design, content or other outputs.

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