How do you cope with a diabetic child?

by Mark Benson on November 21, 2012

How do you cope with a diabetic child?

Over the last couple of years we have seen some doomsday scenario forecasts with regards to diabetes with some people suggesting that up to 50% of the US population could be impacted within 20 years. Indeed forecasts by a number of leading authorities suggest that hundreds of millions of people around the world could see their lives impacted by the condition and unfortunately more and more children are now falling into this particular category.

If you have a child who is diabetic it can be difficult to come to terms with the situation, difficult to let them breathe and many people will feel guilt about the situation. So how do you cope with a diabetic child?

Guilt

One of the first emotions which a parent may feel when their child is diagnosed with diabetes is guilt that perhaps they could have done something different, they could changed their diet and that could have forced them to exercise more. The reality is that not all forms of diabetes are avoidable and indeed it would be wrong to tar all parents with the same brush and suggest they were at fault for their children developing the condition.

There will be situations where perhaps parents could have done more to maintain a healthy diet and healthy exercise regime for their children but the reality is that the information required to make such decisions is not always there. Many people believe that governments around the world have underinvested in diabetes and the education of not only sufferers but the wider public.

School

We recently printed an article with regards to school and diabetic children which prompted a number of questions about when you should and when you should not let your children stay off school due to diabetes. Those who have children recently diagnosed with the condition will be pleased to know that the vast majority of those who have children with diabetes have reported very little in the way of lost time at school because of the condition. This will be a major relief for many parents around the world because education is important although the act of balancing this with their overall health is not always as simple as it should be.

Schools are now actively involved in monitoring diabetic children and indeed there is no reason why fail safes cannot be put in place to ensure that your child’s schooldays are safe and as healthy as possible. It will take some preparation, you may well need to push schools to become involved but the reality is that there is no major reason why your children should miss excessive school days because of diabetes.

Letting go of the apron strings

Many of us parents find it very difficult to let our young children breathe, to let them lead their own lives and ultimately to let go of the apron strings. This situation can be exacerbated by diabetes because there is always the added concern that your child may have an episode which could have very distressing implications. The reality is that unless we let our children live, unless we teach them from an early age about the problems of diabetes and what they need to do, we could well be impacting their education and their life experiences in the future.

There is nothing wrong in being protective of your children, there is nothing wrong in being extra protective of a diabetic child but we all need to realise that at some point we will need to let go and let them live a little. This will happen bit by bit and so long as all parties are sensible and abide by the rules imposed by parents then all parties should be comfortable, be happy and able to live a full and fruitful life.

Diet

Perhaps one of the first matters which is discussed when a child is diagnosed with diabetes is their diet and the need to change this in many instances. The reality is that we are all very different and a diet which may work for one diabetic child may not have as much impact for another therefore advice should be taken from a very early stage from your doctor. Your doctor will be able to advise you of dietary changes to avoid diabetic episodes and to allow your children to lead a full and exciting life.

Many parents find it useful to actually assist their children in changing their diet by changing their own diet and rather bizarrely this could have an impact upon whether they themselves develop diabetes in the future. While your child being diagnosed with diabetes is not the wake-up call we would all hope for, if any good can come out of this situation then perhaps this is an area where we can all look to improve going forward.

Exercise

We all know that exercise is both healthy for the mind and healthy for the body but the likelihood is that the vast majority of us know we are not as active as we should be. Again, it is not the ideal scenario to make changes to your exercise regime because of your child being diagnosed with diabetes but a simple change in your child’s diet and exercise regime can have a dramatic impact. It is also worthwhile remembering that spending more time together as a family and as a unit, whether walking the dog, walking down to the shops, etc not only assist in building a closer support network for your children but also enhances family life.

Children can adapt better than you ever imagined!

Time and time again we have seen instances of children adapting much quicker to challenges and medical conditions than their parents ever dreamt of. Time and time again we see children administering insulin without so much as a flicker of there eye or a twitch of their hand. The reality is that children can adapt much quicker to situations which adults may well find difficult. If your child is diabetic you will at some stage take a step back and realise that they have adapted, they have come around to the fact they are diabetic and in very many cases they seem to live life as normal and just get on with it.

While we very often put a protective arm around our children there are many ways in which we can learn from their resilience, their ability to adapt and their vigour for life.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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