How to Tell Your Child about Diabetes

You were probably floored when you found out that your child has diabetes. When you recovered from the shock, you may have experienced plenty of other emotions: anger, guilt, fear, and de­pression. These kinds of reactions are entirely normal. But as you work through your feelings (with or without professional psycho­logical help), there are practical things you need to learn and do in order to take care of your child—and to help your son or daughter cope with the shock of having a serious illness at so young an age.

You may be feeling overwhelmed by what seems to be an enormity of details, and it will take a while to learn the intricacies of diabetes management and treatment and to teach them to your child. You don’t have to do everything right away, but there are a few basic skills you need to get down pat as soon as you can:

Tell Child about Diabetes

  • Monitoring blood glucose levels
  • Giving insulin injections
  • Recognizing and responding to hypo- and hyperglycemia
  • Creating a menu and preparing your child’s food based on the plan provided by a nutritionist
  • Supervising physical exercise and moderating it based on insu­lin and food intake
  • Knowing what to do when your child gets sick

Your child needs to be told about the diabetes as soon as you find out. It is natural to want to protect children from the unpleasant aspects of life, and diabetes is certainly something you would have preferred didn’t happen. But it did happen and you will need to face it and live with it—as a family.

You really don’t have a choice about whether to tell your child or when to do so. Insulin treatment has to begin right away; there’s no getting around that. Also, your child knows there is something wrong and is probably as scared as you are, so the sooner you provide reassurance that this illness is something that can be treated and controlled, the sooner you can alleviate the fear. This is not to say that your child won’t have all kinds of emo­tional reactions to having diabetes, but fear of the unknown will not be one of them, at least not as far as knowing what’s wrong (fear of the future is always an issue with diabetics of any age).

Parents know their children best, and they can make the best guess about how their children will react, but most find that the best way to break the news is as gently and directly as possible. Age and emotional maturity make a big difference in how and what you tell your child about diabetes, but whatever amount of information you impart, make certain that it is accurate. Naturally, you will have to repeat things over and over again because chil­dren, like adults, don’t generally remember details of a stressful event. And being told you have a serious illness is extremely stressful no matter how old you are.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care


About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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