Diabetes is a very serious lifelong condition requiring 24-hour care. Being diagnosed with this type of chronic illness can be very stressful on the whole family, especially the child. Children have a hard time understanding why they cannot have certain foods and drinks, or why they constantly feel thirsty, tired, need to urinate frequently, and feel very irritable. It is vital to help your child deal with diabetes, especially in the beginning when everything is new and they may feel ashamed to be “different” than their peers.
Whether your child is very young or older, it is important to have your child assist you in their diabetes management. Children are able to help you in all aspects, such as learning how to check their blood sugar levels, record the levels, measuring, and learning where to inject insulin. It is also important to teach your child to always have their diabetes supplies with them where ever they go.
Teaching your child what types of food they are and are not allowed to have is an extremely important part of having diabetes. Also explain to your child the importance of not consuming these specific types of foods. It is best not to just forbid a food from a child. Doing so will make the child more likely to want to eat it when the opportunity arises. Explain to your child that they are still able to have foods such as candy bars, cookies, or juices but they must be a certain sugar free type. It is good to give your child an alternative as much as possible so they do not feel left out.
Having an active lifestyle is also a highly important part of diabetes management. If an active lifestyle is instilled early on in life, they are more likely to continue with it when they are grown up. Being active together as a family and making it fun will in turn make your child want to participate, instead of it seeming like a chore.
For school aged children it is vital to go with your child and speak to the school nurse as well as their teacher. Explain your child’s condition and how often they must check their blood sugar levels, what types of medications they are on, and how much to administer.
Talking to your child about their condition is important for them to gain confidence and acceptance about having diabetes. Model confidence and do not show any type of disappointment or embarrassment when talking to others about their illness. It is a lifelong journey, but it can be a smooth journey with the help and support of you, their parent.