The holidays can be stressful for everyone—especially children with diabetes. Like all children, they must deal with the stresses of family visits, a flurry of activities, final exams, and various expectations at this time. But unlike most children, children with diabetes often feel restricted in the presence of enticing foods during the holidays. How can you help your child enjoy the holidays when the restrictions of diabetes cause him to feel different and left out?

The challenges your child faces during the holidays often depend on her age. You can help by understanding your child’s developmental level and the special issues she may confront at this time.

Preschool children tend to think in terms of good and bad. They may see the dietary restrictions and treatment of diabetes as punishment for something they have done. Therefore, your challenge is to ensure that the holidays are positive. Here are some tips:

  • Spend time with your child and focus on fun activities that have little to do with diabetes. Here are some ideas:
    • Decorate the house and your child’s room.
    • Visit family and friends.
    • Visit Santa.
    • Attend a holiday show or movie for children.
    • Make and give special treats that your child can eat.
    • Play games, especially those that provide your child with physical exercise.
  • Help your child set—and reach—very small self-care goals each day.
  • Give your child plenty of positive reinforcement and praise, especially as he learns new skills.
  • Use humor to help your child deal with stressful or unpleasant situations.