Diabetes in Children – A Guide for Families
Has your child been diagnosed with diabetes, and you’re worried? Or maybe he or she has had diabetes for a while but you feel like you’re floundering. Sometimes, parents and families need to understand how diabetes affects the family dynamic, and how they can be supportive. Whether your child is an infant, teen, or in grade school, families often need some guidance on how they can help their children live a normal life.
Here is a brief guide for families living with children who have diabetes.
Be Ready for Misconceptions
Parents and diabetic children will have to deal with various misconceptions and myths about diabetes. It’s good to look over some of the more prevalent myths and questions, and have a ready answer for them. You may want to coach your child in answering these misconceptions as well.
- “Will I catch diabetes from you/your child?” Of course not – diabetes is not communicable.
- “I can’t invite you/your child to my birthday party!” Children with diabetes may not be invited to birthday parties because many hosts/parents do not want the responsibility of a diabetic child, especially one surrounded by sugary birthday treats. Hopefully, you can work with the parents of kids who are having birthday parties and let your child participate in whatever capacity you’re comfortable with.
- Will you die if you eat sugar?” Some people think that diabetics will be “poisoned” if they eat sugar.
- “You must have eaten too much sugar as a baby/child; that’s why you have diabetes.” Many people think that eating too much sugar causes diabetes.
To help make the disease seem less scary, research the terminology and realities of the disease. That way, when your doctor talks to you about the disease, you will not feel intimidated by the terms and will know what he or she is talking about. Knowledge can help you feel empowered. You can also use your research to help formulate a plan, which makes a lot of families feel more secure.
Include Other Family Members
When you can, include the family in the scheduled meal times and even snacks. Some families make a nightly together time of the snack before bed that most diabetics need. Everyone in the family should know how to recognize signs of a problem – high or low blood sugar especially.
Involve yourself in the diabetes community in your area and/or online. There are diabetes camps, online forms, and various support groups that can help your family live with diabetes. These groups can also help your child learn how to cope with diabetes now and in the future.