Diabetes can take an emotional toll on your child (and you!). Here are a few ideas on how to you can support your child/teen. You may find that this will reduce your own stress in the day-to-day care.
- Encourage your child to talk about his diabetes.
- Let them know it is okay to feel angry and upset.
- Ask if there is anything you can do to help. Sometimes all they need is for you to listen.
Stay cool about blood sugars
- Blood sugars are bits of information. They tell us we need more insulin or more food, or we need less insulin or less food.
- Your child may want to please you by reporting only “good” blood sugars. Your child may be afraid she will get in trouble for “bad” blood sugars. Your child may lie about blood sugars to keep out of trouble.
- Use “high” and “low” when talking about blood sugars, rather than “good” and “bad.”
- The less emotional you are about blood sugars, the better off everyone will be.
Know what to expect from your child and teen
- As your child gets older, he can take over more of his diabetes care, with your supervision.
- These changes come slowly and over time.
- If you expect too much from your child, and he can’t do it, he feels like he has failed.
- If you expect too little from your child. He may become angry and feel he is being treated like a baby.
- Know what is reasonable to expect from your child/teen for their diabetes tasks. Talk to your nurse practitioner or social worker.
Make sure your child’s diabetes insulin regimen fits their lifestyle
- Some children/teens follow a routine. Some insulin programs work on time schedules.
- Some children/teens do not like to follow routines (they enjoy sleeping late or eating at odd hours). Some insulin programs are more flexible.
- Talk to your nurse practitioner if you feel your child’s insulin program does not match her lifestyle.
- Diabetes care involves many tasks throughout the day.
- It is easy to focus on a missed blood sugar test, while not seeing that 2-3 other blood sugars were done.
- Notice and be pleased about the tasks that are done well, rather than constantly pointing out what is wrong.
- We all do better with a carrot than a stick!
How do you know if your child needs help?
Your child may have a hard time with diabetes. She may become sad or angry. While it is okay to feel this way some of the time, it is not ok to feel this way all the time. Call your nurse practitioner or social worker if you notice your child is:
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Eating more or less than usual
- Doing worse in school
- “Moody” and “in a bad mood” more than usual
- Having high a1cs
- Not wanting to do things he once enjoyed (not wanting to hang out with friends or play football anymore)
- Tired all the time and has low energy
- Gaining or losing weight
Where can I go for help if my child has emotional problems because of diabetes?
- Nurse Practitioner or social worker can help figure out what is going on.
- School counselor can help your child manage his diabetes during the school day.
- Family doctor knows your child very well. He may suggest seeing a counselor.