Managing diabetes for kids
A diagnosis of diabetes should not diminish your child’s quality of life. You and your child will have additional responsibilities over the years, but the added self-discipline may work in your child's favour.
As a parent of an infant or toddler newly diagnosed with diabetes, your child’s diagnosis may affect you much more than it does your child. After all, your child is fully dependent upon you for all care, not just diabetes treatments. Even as your child begins walking and talking, diabetes will be a very small part of their world. Children live in the moment. The blood glucose test or injection that was so upsetting this morning has long since been forgotten.
For your own peace of mind, as well as your child's health, take advantage of every possible opportunity to educate yourself. Get involved in a local support group, where you can get to know other families facing the exact same issues every day. Be sure to take care of yourself. Diabetes is a day-by-day, sometimes hour-by-hour responsibility—if you're not careful, you can easily tire yourself out.
Talking With Your Child
Only you will know how much information to provide your child and when they will be ready to understand more. For a while, it may be enough for them to know that they have too much glucose in their blood and need insulin to let it out.
Still, it is a good idea to start talking about diabetes and your feelings early. Focus on the facts about blood glucose results and injections—even babies are attuned to the way we say things, which can reveal a lot more than the actual words we use.
Tips for Caring for Young Children
- Listen closely to your child. Are there things he or she doesn't quite understand?
- Choose words carefully. Do not call blood sugars or blood glucose readings "good" or "bad,"; instead use “high,” “low,” and “normal.”
- Congratulate your child on being courageous when the time comes to test or inject.
- Make testing and injecting times warm and loving. A cuddle after a blood glucose test can go a long way.
- Let the child participate by choosing a finger for testing, or rubbing the spot after testing.
- Rotate injection sites regularly.
- Get everything ready before the test. Make the process quick and calm. The less upset you get about it, the less upset your child will be, too.
- Work with your healthcare professional to outline an eating, testing, and medication plan tailored to your child.
- If possible, encourage your child to attend a diabetes camp where the child can interact with other children with diabetes and have staff knowledgeable about diabetes on hand. To apply for a camp online, visit the Canadian Diabetes Association website and download the application form.
About Kids Health. Ideas to Help Your Family Adjust. Available at: https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/ResourceCentres/Diabetes/UnderstandingtheDiagnosisofDiabetes/CopingwiththeDiagnosis/Pages/Ideas-to-Help-Your-Family-Adjust.aspx Accessed June 30, 2015.
About Kids Health. At Home. Available at: https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/ResourceCentres/Diabetes/AtHome/Pages/default.aspx Accessed June 30, 2015.
Joslin Diabetes Center. How to Talk to your Child about Diabetes. Available at: https://www.joslin.org/info/how_to_talk_to_your_child_about_diabetes.html Accessed June 30, 2015.
Diabetes Quebec. All about injections: Get a better understanding of insulin and other injectable medications. Available at: http://www.diabete.qc.ca/en/living-with-diabetes/care-and-treatment/drugs-and-insulin/all-about-injections Accessed June 30, 2015.