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4 Ways To Respond to PANDAS/PANS Flares

flares parenting Feb 01, 2021

One of the most challenging things we go through as PANDAS/PANS parents is knowing how to respond in a helpful way when our kids are flaring. 


What Can I Do?

When your child is in a flare, most likely your first reaction is to do just that...react.

Flares can cause us to get frustrated, angry, scared, and sad. Your reaction may be to yell, cry, or freeze altogether. In reality, the best thing you can do is get your emotions under control before attempting to help your child. 

We've all heard the analogy of putting on your "oxygen mask" first in an airplane emergency before helping your child with his oxygen mask.

For a PANS child who is flaring, this advice applies as well!  You have to regulate (calm) your own emotions before you try to help your child regulate (calm) their emotions. 

Today I have 4 suggestions for how you can do just that.


How Can I Regulate My Emotions?

I wish I had learned these strategies earlier on in my own parenting with PANS journey. Once I began to implement ways to regulate my emotions, I quickly saw how doing this can change the entire outcome of a stressful flare interaction with my PANDAS/PANS child.

The goal here is to use tools to calm your nervous system when it is heightened, which in turn will help your PANS child's nervous system calm down.  Here are several ways to accomplish this:

1. Breathe:

Breath work is very powerful and is one of the quickest ways to slow your emotions. The next time you feel yourself getting worked up, try breathing in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, and breathe out for 4 counts.

2. Count:

Try counting backwards from 30, or even reciting times tables to yourself.  Counting helps get you into your thinking brain and out of your emotional brain

3. Use your senses:

Tuning into our senses is an excellent way to calm our nervous system.  During a flare we may need to use our senses quickly to get ourselves regulated.  

A quick way to do this is feel your feet on the ground.  If you are sitting, put your feet on the ground.  Feel the connection to the floor.  Feel your feet supported by the floor.  Standing up to feel your feet on the ground if you are sitting can help ground you further.  

4. Be aware of your body

Remember that when your PANS child is in a flare, they are in flight or fight mode.

This means that their brain is actively scanning the environment for anything that can as dangerous. 

As parents, we know that there isn't any current danger, but the inflammation going on during a flare makes their brain interpret cues in their environment as potentially dangerous. 

Certain things are more likely to trigger a danger signal  in a PANS child's brain such as a loud voice, quick movements, or angry facial expressions

For this reason, when interacting with your child during a flare, do so very intentionally. Strive to use a low voice, a calm face, and slow movements.


It Takes Practice

Learning to regulate your emotions during flares does not come naturally, so be patient with yourself during the process.  Gaining the ability to regulate (stay calm) during flares will not only help you immensely, but it will also help your PANS child.


Click here to take a look at my online course for PANDAS/PANS parenting. In my course, I teach you how to regulate yourself as a PANDAS/PANS parent, as well as many, many other tools to help you, your PANDAS/PANS child or teen and the whole family.