4 Tips for Managing Your Child’s Diabetes
Parenting is far from easy—challenges grow along with children. But when you add managing diabetes to your to-do list, life can seem overwhelming at times. Educating yourself as much as possible about diabetes will prepare you for the necessary tasks and ease your mind. And it’s not only okay, it’s good to ask for help. They say it takes a village to raise a child, so don’t expect to manage your child’s diabetes all on your own either.
Tip #1: Choose a Health Team
If your child suffers from diabetes, he may require more care than his pediatrician can provide. You may choose to add other professionals to your health team, such as pediatric endocrinologists, child psychologists, nutrition experts, etc. It’s recommended that your child visit with his health team at least four times a year, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center. Remember that the specialists do not replace your regular pediatrician, and to ask the pediatrician for recommendations. You, your child, and your team can create a detailed, individualized management plan.
Tip #2: Be Honest
Be honest with your health team, be honest with your child, and encourage your child to be honest with you. If you and your child are struggling with something, the Joslin Diabetes Center recommends you let your health team know. They are there to help. If there is anything you don’t understand, or if a task seems overwhelming to you, don’t be afraid to admit it. You do not have to be strong all the time.
Be honest with your child. Using age-appropriate phrasing, and let her know how important sticking to the treatment plan is. However, be careful to not imply that there are “bad” glucose levels, so that your child will not hesitate to be honest with you about them. Have honest, open, and positive communication.
Tip #3: Don’t Let Diabetes Define You, or Your Child
Yes, managing the disease will require a lot of your time and energy. You’ll plan activities around treatment. You’ll worry and stress. But you love your child, and you want him to feel happy, normal, and capable. Do not avoid normal youthful activities, such as sports or parties. Engage your child in conversations that have nothing to do with insulin and blood-glucose. And don’t make your child feel different from his siblings. His diet should not be any different than the rest of the family’s. Everyone should be eating healthy, nutritious meals, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center.
Tip #4: Educate Yourself
You should learn as much as possible about this disease. Make sure you know about, and teach your child, everything on the following list, adapted from joslin.org:
- Meal planning
- Blood-glucose testing
- Administering insulin or other diabetic medication
- Managing illness
- Urine testing for ketones (insulin users)
- Regular tests, such as blood pressure, eye exams, foot exams, A1C, kidneys, cholesterol, etc.
- Warning signs, and when to call the doctor
If you feel insecure about anything, ask someone from your health team to help. You should discuss problems and concerns with your health team regularly. Research and discuss as many times as it takes for you to feel comfortable and ready to handle issues associated with diabetes.