“Ask Cathy” Food Allergy Advice: My Daughter Is Afraid To Go To School

"Ask Cathy" Food Allergy Advice


Dear Cathy,

My 7-year-old daughter, who is allergic to peanuts, saw another child at school have an anaphylactic reaction. The staff knew what to do and administered epinephrine, then an ambulance was called and the child was taken to the hospital. Now my daughter is afraid to go to school. She thinks it’s a dangerous place for her, and it’s a struggle every morning trying to get her off to school. What can I do to help calm her fears?

Puzzled Papa
Tacoma, WA


Dear Puzzled Papa,

Now would be an excellent time to sit down with your daughter and remind her that she is not powerless. In fact, she is a superhero! Her “powers” are numerous: washing her hands and not eating any food that doesn’t come from you, to name just two. Her main nemesis, Peanut, will try to scare her with anaphylaxis, but even if that happens, she has the perfect “weapon:” her epinephrine auto-injector.

Fear often stems from the unknown, so run through a few scenarios with your daughter at home. Who should she ask for help? What are some of the first warning signs of anaphylaxis? Help her feel prepared and strong by reminding her that she knows what to do in an emergency.

School is not the “bad guy” here. A food allergen is. And that food allergen can appear in many different locations. In fact, relatively speaking, she is perhaps even safer at school than in other places because she has so many people whom she can ask for help. Fortunately, they also seem to know what they are doing!

Bolster her confidence with frequent reminders of how prepared she is to handle a potential anaphylactic reaction. Even when her fears seem to be soothed, it’s always a good idea to review prevention methods, symptoms of anaphylaxis and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector.

Best of luck! Keep us posted,

My Kid’s Food Allergies


Cathy is just like you:  She worries about food choices, where to eat and whether friends and family will be as careful about food allergens and cross contamination as you are. She is diligent, and she is also a food allergy warrior. If you would like to ask Cathy a question for a future column, please submit here.

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