According to the CDC data on diabetes, “more than 34 million Americans have [diagnosed] diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2.”
If your child was diagnosed with diabetes, You Are Not Alone. There are over 1.5 million children who have the disease in the US.
Although type 2 is attributed to lifestyle, both 1 and 2 are treated through any combination of diet, exercise, and medication. The good news is that both type 1 and type 2 are very manageable. It can be a challenge, but you can do it. Here are some tips to help guide you through your journey.
Dealing With Diagnosis
Of course, it’s more difficult for your child, but being a parent to a child that has this disease can be difficult as well. Your attitude can make or break your family dynamics during this period. If you think positively, praise your child for what they can do, don’t compare them to others, and give hope that diabetes is something that they will live a long, happy life with.
Here 5 things you can do right away to get started.
- Join online/in-person support groups.
- Search websites or join seminars to find answers to frequently asked questions about diabetes and ways to develop a plan for your child.
- Join a diabetes-specific organization (JDRF or ADA) and attend events.
- Spend time learning how to count carbohydrates quickly and accurately, as well as learning what the various carbohydrate foods are for your child’s diet plan.
- Come up with fun ways to help your child physically and emotionally deal with diabetes.
Resources for Parents and Children
There are many charities you can get involved with which have great resources for both parents and children. A few are listed below. Please search Google for more help and information on local organizations if you don’t find what you’re looking for.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)
- The American Diabetes Association (ADA)
- Find Diabetes Camps for Kids and Adults
Support groups for parents whose children have diabetes might be helpful to you. Just knowing that others are going through the same thing as you is comforting. Oftentimes, kids with diabetes also join these support groups to meet other children who have the disease.
Also, many companies offer programs for free where a nurse visits your home to teach basic diabetic care and how to change the insulin pump settings. This is also helpful so you can learn everything necessary to keep your child healthy and alive.
Consider getting support from a local group or online community. Getting involved with nonprofits for diabetes like the ADA and JDRF is a great way to find the best resources and connect with your community.
Give Yourself a Break
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family members. You have a lot on your plate as a parent so know when it’s time to ask for someone to take care of your child so you can have a break and recharge your batteries.
Helping Your Child Understand Diabetes
Having diabetes can be scary for kids, so reassure your child every step of the way. The more you know about diabetes, the better you can cope with it. If your child wants to make a career as a doctor, this is a good start. If not, it’s still a priceless tool for managing diabetes.
Not only is there a physical aspect to taking care of diabetes, but you also need to be aware of the mental and emotional elements, such as how it can affect mood, relationships with friends and family, self-esteem, and resilience.
There are a lot of great resources that you can show to your child. Within Your reach: A Journey Through Diabetes is an excellent book to start with. It’s a memoir about one man’s lifelong journey with the disease.
More Helpful Resources
The American Diabetes Association has premade written diabetes care plans you can customize for your child. It also has information on what treatments are available for children who can’t take insulin (using an insulin pump, taking medications).
American Diabetes Association: Family-focused Psychosocial Care for People With Diabetes.
JDRF: FAQs about Childhood Diabetes and Growing Up With Type 1 Diabetes.
Kids With Diabetes: Living with type 1, The basics of diabetes care for kids, Common questions from parents about insulin pumps, The ABCs of injectable medications, etc.
The University of Michigan Health has a guide for kids with diabetes, “Living With an Insulin Pump.”
JDRF: Drugs and Devices for Glucose Control, a guide for determining the best therapy for your child.
Life Expectancy for Children With Diabetes
Parents often worry about the future of their children. This can be due to social or physical issues, and children with diabetes are more likely to face problems in these areas than other children. If not well managed, some studies have shown diabetes’ impact on life expectancy. However, if you figure out a good plan, your boy or girl can live a normal life like any other child.
Caring for and Treating Your Child’s Diabetes
Diabetes is manageable, and with proper care, diabetes may not affect the quality of life of your child at all. It does take some lifestyle changes and/or medication to control it. Be frequent and consistent with checking blood sugar levels.
Keep a logbook to keep track of patterns and behaviors that affect the body’s ability to process glucose (sugar). This information will help your doctor better understand what triggers significant changes in blood-sugar levels and when these spikes or drops occur.
Tips To Help Your Child Manage Diabetes With Diet
Here are some tips for working with your kids to help them live happy, healthy lives despite their diagnosis. Your child can be involved, but it should be their idea if they want to face this challenge head-on and take the lead in getting through it together as a family team or by themselves if that is what works best for them.
Making Eating Healthy Fun!
Make it fun, often the best tasting things aren’t exactly healthy, but it’s not necessarily true. There are plenty of fun ways to get your child involved in healthy eating, and