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Pediatric Diabetes: Boosting Confidence and Reducing Stress

From talking to walking to driving, your child is constantly learning new life skills. When your child has diabetes, those skills may include:

  • Choosing a healthy diet

  • Being physically active

  • Taking medication correctly

  • Monitoring blood glucose (sugar)

While it’s a lot for your child to think about, you are there to offer help and support. Your child’s doctor is your partner in this process. The doctor creates a personal diabetes care plan for your child. You put the plan into action. Then the two of you together track how well the plan is working and make any changes that are needed.

How Teamwork Helps Your Child

Your child gains a lot from this partnership. In the short term, good diabetes control may boost energy, improve healing ability, and reduce some infections.

In the long term, it lowers the risk for future health problems. Controlling diabetes helps protect your child’s heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

Keep a Diabetes Log

Your child’s doctor may ask you to check your child’s blood glucose regularly. To do this, you prick one of your child’s fingers to get a drop of blood. Then you test the blood with a glucose meter. The meter displays a number showing how much glucose is present.

Keep a log of your child’s blood glucose numbers. Record what your child ate, how active your child was, and when your child took medication.

Bring the log with you to doctor visits. This lets the doctor see how your child’s blood glucose responds to various things throughout the day. Your child’s doctor may use this information to adjust your child’s treatment, if needed.

Communicate Effectively

Clear communication with your child’s doctor helps everyone. Your child benefits because you learn more about how to manage diabetes successfully. You benefit because you may feel less stressed when you get the advice you need. Your child’s doctor benefits because you may be able to share helpful insights.

These tips may help you make the most of your time in the doctor’s office:

  • Plan ahead. Write down a list of questions in advance. Be specific. For example, you might ask for advice on choosing a blood glucose meter.

  • Share specifics. Volunteer useful insights into your child’s life. For example, you might share how your child’s school schedule affects diabetes care.

  • Speak up. Let the doctor know about any problems. For example, tell the doctor if you are having trouble following your child’s eating plan.

Empower Your Child

As children grow older, they are able to take more responsibility for self-care. There is no set age at which children are ready to do things such as checking their own blood glucose or injecting their own insulin. Each child is different. Ask your child’s doctor for advice on when your child is ready for these tasks.

For children with type 1 diabetes, it’s especially important that they learn how to care for and manage their condition. The ADA recommends all children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes should self-monitor blood glucose levels multiple times daily.

Learning to manage diabetes is a boost to your child’s self-esteem. Rather than feeling sick, your child feels strong and empowered. You can help by showing your child what to do and then supervising as your child practices.

Build a Positive Attitude

Help your child develop a positive outlook on diabetes. Some children worry about being different. They fear that they won’t fit in with their friends. Remind them that they can do anything their friends do. Diabetes doesn’t need to hold them back.

Other children become anxious about getting sick. Encourage your child to talk about such feelings. Just expressing a fear out loud sometimes makes it seem less powerful. Reassure your child that diabetes can be managed. There are several support groups—in-person and online—that can help kids and teens manage their diabetes and receive peer support.

Dealing with Diabetes Mistakes

Be realistic about what you expect. There may be times when your child eats too many sweets or skips doing blood glucose checks. Acknowledge that nobody is perfect. Talk about why this happened and how to avoid making the same mistake again.

© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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