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Health Information For Parents
When a child is diagnosed with diabetes, parents might spend a lot of time thinking about the disease’s physical effects. But emotional issues also come with a diabetes diagnosis.
So it’s important for parents to recognize the feelings that kids with diabetes might have and learn ways to help them.
Kids often have these emotions after learning they have diabetes:
Parents often go through a grieving process when they find out that their child has a disease like diabetes. It can be hard to come to terms with the idea that a child has a chronic condition that will need to be managed for the rest of his or her life. It’s normal to feel grief and sadness.
Many parents also feel guilty about their child’s diabetes and wonder if they could have prevented it somehow. Some parents also might feel unsure about taking on the tasks of caring for a child with diabetes, such as giving medicines and helping their child follow a meal plan. It’s also common to worry about recognizing symptoms of a diabetes problem and getting the right medical help.
What can you do to cope with your own feelings? First, get nswers to your questions from the health care professionals caring for your child. Educating yourself about diabetes and the best ways to manage it can help put your mind at ease. Also ask the care team for information and tips on coping with your child’s emotional issues.
It’s important to see to your own needs as well as your child’s. When you can, let others — like relatives and friends — share the responsibilities of caring for your family. Remember that you can’t do it all.
When a child has diabetes, it affects the entire family. Siblings might resent the extra attention that a child with diabetes gets, as well as sacrifices (like eating healthier foods at family meals or going along to doctor appointments) made for the sibling. And sometimes they’re the target of anger and resentment because they don’t have to deal with the issues that the child with diabetes faces.
Family members like grandparents, aunts, and uncles also might worry about your child’s health. Try to talk openly about all of these feelings with your family. Holding a family meeting might be one way to break the news of your child’s diagnosis and address everyone’s worries and concerns.
You might find it easier to talk with a counselor, your child’s doctor, or others on the diabetes health care team about these emotional issues. Also, consider looking for support groups, books, and websites about how to deal with diabetes. In time, the whole family will adjust to dealing with the condition.
Once you learn to recognize your child’s feelings, here are some tips for coping with those emotions:
Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Check in with your child regularly. Try to listen to everything he or she has to say before bringing up your own feelings. This kind of communication doesn’t always have to be verbal. Drawing, writing, or playing music can help kids with diabetes express their emotions.
Encourage active health care management. It’s important to reinforce the idea that when kids take good care of themselves and manage their diabetes, they can avoid undesirable things like extra shots or missing out on activities that their friends enjoy. Your child might even want to ask the doctor questions on his or her own.
Build independence. It can be hard, especially at first, but it’s important to resist the urge to lower your expectations or overprotect a child with diabetes. Instead, encourage the same independence that you’d expect from your other kids. With the encouragement and support of their parents, kids with diabetes can take on some responsibilities for managing it — a change that often has a positive, confidence-building effect.
Help kids find their strengths. Is your child a reader, a hockey player, a singer, a future astronomer, an art lover? Diabetes does not define someone’s life — it’s only a very small part of who your child is.
Focus on friendships. Having fun with friends builds confidence and a sense of belonging. Encourage your child to discuss diabetes with friends. This can help friends feel more comfortable interacting with your child in the same way they did before the diagnosis. Instead of focusing on the one thing that’s different, kids can focus on all the things that they have in common with their friends.
Find ways to cope with bullying. Sometimes kids pick on peers with diabetes or other health problems. Your child might use the following ways to deal with teasing or bullying:
Correct misconceptions. Talk to your child about the fact that people do nothing to deserve diabetes — it just happens. Also, if your child feels like the diabetes is causing problems for you or your family, offer reassurance that there’s no reason to feel guilty. Instead, your child should focus on dealing with his or her own feelings about diabetes, not yours.
Tell friends, teachers, and others about your child’s diabetes. Ask your child if he or she wants others to know about the diabetes. Kids sometimes find it less embarrassing if friends and classmates know that they have diabetes — that way, they don’t have to worry about what their friends will think when they head to the nurse’s office every day. Teachers and care providers also should know about the condition and its management (for instance, if your child takes breaks to test blood sugar or eats snacks at certain times).
Connect with others dealing with diabetes. Finding a support group for kids and families with diabetes can help kids to feel less different. These groups can boost your confidence as you deal with diabetes and offer advice and tips on managing it. The diabetes health care team might be able to help you connect with support groups in your area.
Get help when you need it. Be sure to keep your child’s diabetes health care team in the loop about any emotional issues — they deal with this all the time and can provide help for your child and advice for you. If your child shows any signs of depression (such as lasting sadness or irritability, tiredness, appetite changes, or changes in sleeping habits), talk to your child’s doctor or a mental health professional.
Every parent of a child with diabetes must deal with the feelings that come with the disease. Try to keep in mind that for most kids, negative feelings about diabetes pass or change with time as they adjust to living with it.
Learn all you can about diabetes so you’ll be better prepared to talk about it with your child.
Blood tests and insulin injections can be a challenge for kids with diabetes and their parents. Here are some strategies for coping with these necessary procedures.
Does your child have type 1 or type 2 diabetes? Learn how to manage the disease and keep your child healthy.
When kids with diabetes attend school, parents should discuss the condition with teachers, school staff, and coaches. Here are some tips on what to cover.
It’s perfectly normal for people with diabetes to feel sad, angry, confused, upset, alone, embarrassed, and even jealous. After all, these are natural emotions that everyone feels from time to time. But how can you cope?
Dealing with diabetes can stir up a lot of different emotions. Find out more about dealing with your feelings if you’re a kid with diabetes.
Checking your blood sugar levels is a really important part of managing diabetes. Knowing those levels will help you keep your blood sugar under control – and that helps you feel good and keeps you healthy.
Diabetes means a problem with insulin, an important hormone in the body. Find out how children with diabetes can stay healthy and do the normal stuff kids like to do.
Diabetes doesn’t have to get in the way of exercise and sports competition. Like anyone else, kids with diabetes are healthier if they get plenty of exercise.
Our Diabetes Center provides information and advice for teens about treating and living with diabetes.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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