As a parent, it can be heartbreaking to see your child suffer from emetophobia. The fear of vomiting can be overwhelming for them, but as their parent and caregiver, you have options to help them cope. Learn how to handle your child’s emetophobia with these effective strategies.
Vomiting. No one likes it. Some individuals dislike it more than others. Then there are those who fear it, such as my eight-year-old daughter. She fears that she will vomit and that she will be among others who have or will puke. The word vomit alone is enough to send her into a spiral.
My daughter enjoys the autobiographical graphic novels Smile and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier, so I purchased her a copy of her latest work, Guts. Guts are the latest graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier, creator of the popular autobiographical works Smile and Sisters. In this book, Telgemeier illustrates and recounts her real-life difficulties with emetophobia, which is an extreme fear of vomiting. I had no idea my daughter’s phobia had a name until I read this book.
She read it then. We then experienced the worst week of third grade.
Why I Couldn’t Help My Child’s Fear
I gave her the book only after carefully planning my timing. She had caught a cold, and the little sniffle caused her to worry about fevers, vomiting, flu shots, and everything else that could occur during the cold season. She couldn’t fall asleep, her anxiety was constant, she didn’t want to attend school, and she imagined the worse. “How am I going to survive this?” she wondered.
When my daughter’s anxiety is through the roof, I do my best to calm her concerns about what she may have touched in the cafeteria, who may have touched her backpack, and whether she would vomit at school like her best friend. I attempt to help her make sense of her anxiety before it becomes a tornado, but it turns out that rationalizing and empathizing are not always the greatest responses.
“A child with a phobia seeks comfort and avoids the things that provoke her anxiety. The normal parental response is to offer reassurance, which can exacerbate the issue by reinforcing avoidance and intensifying dread,” says Ricardo Rieppi, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in New York City.
How to Assist Your Child to Overcome Their Fear
My daughter is not hesitant to enter a classroom full of strangers and assert herself. She is unconcerned about conversing with her neighbors or the restaurant service. She has self-assurance in her beauty, skills, and voice. Her anxiety is particularized. At least for me, giving the phobia a name has been a comfort.
Now that we are working with a therapist, our daughter has developed a plan to manage her anxiety when it arises. The only thing that makes our efforts truly effective is practice, something we are currently working on. Nonetheless, it is crucial that a child has the tools at her disposal, like a sixth sense, to alleviate tension at the precise moment it is required.
Tear it up: Write your problems on paper and then rip up the paper. Recognizing worrisome thoughts and feelings is essential, as is the capacity to symbolically destroy them.
Fidget: For diversion and relaxation, fidget with a squishy or specialized fidget item.
54321 grounding technique: Consider five things that you can see, four things that you can feel, three things that you can hear, two things that you can smell, and one item that you can taste. The brain must use considerable effort to identify these objects, so diverting attention away from the anxiety’s current dominance.
Explosion breathing: Begin standing, breathe in a while simultaneously crouching down, then jump up and spread your arms and legs while exhaling.
Finger breathing: Imagine you are sketching the outline of a Thanksgiving turkey as you slowly go up and down and in between each finger while taking deep breaths. This is a meditation that requires concentration and time, diverting anxious feelings so that they become more tolerable.