Helping Your Child Manage Type 1 Diabetes
As any parent knows, raising kids is not easy. Parents of children with type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes, face all the usual challenges of child-rearing plus the unique issues that come with their child’s disease. Even the simplest activities, like birthday parties or playing ball, can be stressful if they are not carefully planned.
Children with diabetes need to keep their blood glucose under control to maintain normal growth and development as well as a normal lifestyle. While doctors and dietitians provide the specific treatment your child needs, the following tips can help you teach your child how to live with this disease.
As your child gets older, she will have plenty of questions about the disease. But it’s important to remember that while diabetes is a big part of your child’s life, it’s only one part. Here are some pointers to help you instill both knowledge and a positive attitude in your child, in any stage of her young life.
Infants and Toddlers
Children under the age of two are too young to understand what’s going on. Stay calm and try to test blood and inject insulin quickly. Comfort and reassure the child afterward.
Explain diabetes-related terms and what you are doing to treat the disease, simply and often. Make sure your child knows she didn’t do anything to cause the disease.
Children 5-12 Years Old
Slowly let your child take on more diabetes-related tasks such as meal planning and doing blood sugar checks, but stay involved. Use your child’s maturity, skills, readiness, and interest to help you determine how much she is ready for and when. Also, answer any questions your child has and make sure she can talk comfortably about the disease. This will help her peers feel comfortable with diabetes too.
Help your teenager through this time by being honest, sensitive, and supportive. Teach teens the facts about diabetes and how the choices they make will affect them. Get help from teachers or counselors if necessary. Don’t forget, the teenage years can be a time of rebellion and experimentation. Try to anticipate teenage temptations such as alcohol and give your teenager the tools she needs to address these temptations without creating diabetic disasters.
Last reviewedApril 2012by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.