Life With Diabetes: Your Child And You
A diagnosis of juvenile diabetes is never easy to accept. The parents are worried, sometimes destabilized, and the child finds themselves having to take on large responsibilities for their age. Diabetes is easy to manage, but it requires a lot of discipline; insulin injections, blood glucose monitoring and diet plans are just a few important things to think about.
Despite all this, your child needs to be able to experience a normal childhood without feeling limited or left out. So how can you make cohabitation with this condition easier? Here are some suggestions.
- Talk about diabetes with your child. Use simple, precise words to describe the condition and explain why you need to monitor blood sugar levels, inject insulin or take medication.
- Be transparent when your child asks you questions. Don’t hide the truth, but always emphasize the positive side—for example, by pointing out that proper treatment keeps you healthy.
- Debunk the the myths that surround diabetes. That way, your child will always know how to answer and what to say to those who might misunderstand the condition.
- Have your child play an active role in their treatment as soon as possible to get them to manage their own condition. Even from a very young age, they can make certain decisions such as which finger will be used to measure blood glucose.
- Praise your child for their courage and maturity when measuring blood glucose or injecting insulin. This encouragement will help them view the treatment as a positive thing.
- Avoid phrasing things as “good” and “bad,” especially regarding blood glucose results. Your child should not feel like they are failing. Instead, refer to low, normal or high blood sugar.
- Avoid serving your child special meals “for diabetics.” Healthy eating habits for people with diabetes are exactly the same as healthy eating habits, period, which means your whole family can benefit from them.
- Explain to your child how to recognize the signs of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, and how to treat each one or ask for help.
- As your child matures, you can trust them with new responsibilities in managing their diabetes (measuring blood glucose, keeping a record of the results, making insulin injections, etc.). Some children are ready for this earlier; others later. There’s no one-size-fits-all timeline.
- Inform your relatives and other adults around you (other parents, teachers, educators, caregivers, etc.) about diabetes. Explain your child’s treatment plan while specifying their needs, symptoms to watch out for, and what measures to take and who to contact in case of emergency.
As a parent, your child’s diabetes may cause you a lot of stress, but despite the significant adjustments you’ll have to make, rest assured that the disease will not clip their wings in any way. With the right treatment, plan and tools, they can lead a life as full as that of any kid their age, whether they want to play sports, go to parties or go to the movies. Besides, the discipline they build is sure to come in handy in many areas later in life.
Canadian Diabetes Association, “Kids, Teens & Diabetes”: https://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/kids-teens-diabetes. Accessed January 27, 2017.
Joslin Diabetes Center, “10 Tips For Managing Your Child’s Diabetes”: https://www.joslin.org/info/10_tips_for_managing_your_childs_diabetes.html. Accessed January 27, 2017.
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