Should you keep your children off school because of diabetes?

by Mark Benson on November 17, 2012

Should you keep your children off school because of diabetes?

While only a few years ago the matter of children developing diabetes at a very young age is not one which would have occurred too often or grabbed many headlines around the world but unfortunately it is now becoming more commonplace. We have diabetes type I, which is often referred to as hereditary, and we have diabetes type II which is often referred to as a lifestyle condition. If your children have diabetes when do you keep them off school? Do you try to keep life as normal as possible? Are there any risks with traditional schools?

We will now take a look at some of the subjects which parents of diabetics may well have thought about in relation to school, sick days and when to keep your children off school. This is not an exact science and will obviously differ from person to person but it is a very important matter and one which is often swept under the carpet and never discussed openly.

Keeping life as normal as possible

While the headline “keeping life as normal as possible” may seem somewhat alien to young children who have diabetes, many parents believe that it is vital that you do keep life as normal as possible for them. There will be instances where they will require treatment, there will be instances of concern but very often children are able to adapt better than adults to challenges such as diabetes if, an obvious nightmare for parents, it is diagnosed at a very early age.

In the minds of all parents will be the balancing act between safety and keeping life as normal as possible, this is not easy, it is challenging but on the whole it seems that many parents are reporting very few school sick days for the diabetic children. We will now take a look at some scenarios which you will probably come across if you have diabetic children.

Bad night

No matter how much control you take over diabetes, no matter how closely you monitor your children there will be instances where they will have very difficult nights in relation to their diabetes. Even though it is very unlikely that diabetes will contribute to any other underlying illness, such as flu, coughs, etc, there will be times when your children have restless nights and struggle to sleep. Many parents are already well aware of the various techniques used to rebalance blood sugar levels in these instances but where do you draw the line with regards to keeping your children off school?

While the natural instinct for many parents is to be more protective towards their children because they have diabetes, children will surprise you with their strength and their ability to adapt. If your child has struggled to sleep one evening because of their diabetes then, as you would with any other illness, if they are not fit for school then perhaps a morning off or a day off would best assist their recovery?

Do not be afraid to keep your children off school but it is probably best not to concentrate upon diabetes and perhaps look at the overall health and well-being of your children.

High blood sugar in the morning

Many diabetics are tested throughout the day and if their blood sugar level is high at the start of the morning this would obviously be a concern. A number of parents of diabetics have come forward to suggest that rather than keeping them off school for a full day, perhaps a few hours are all that will be required to reduce their blood sugars to a safe level. As we mentioned above, there is no one size fits all remedy for children and school and parents will often need to make a snap decision based upon the individual circumstances. Finding a balance between being overprotective and trying to ensure that your children have as normal a life as possible is not easy but experience will help – it will become easier with time.

You may find that initially after your child joins preschool for full school, or indeed very soon after they are diagnosed with diabetes if they were already of school age, you do become overprotective. This is all natural and until all parties involved, the child, parents and the school are fully up to speed with their particular role in the life of your child and the battle against diabetes it is for many a sensible policy to introduce. However, you then have a problem when do you reduce the influence of diabetes upon your child and their school life, when do you begin to loosen the apron strings?

Education is important

While there is no doubt the education from a very early age is vital to the development of your child there will be issues along the way with regards to diabetes and children. Those who have children recently diagnosed with diabetes will be pleased to learn that the vast majority of parents are reporting very little in the way of school absences because of diabetes with some suggesting only one or two days a year are lost directly because of diabetes.

It would therefore appear that the problem of schooling and the everyday life of a young diabetic are perhaps not as troublesome as we automatically assume on the surface. Children do learn to adapt, very often they are better than adults at adapting, and we guarantee from the experiences reported on the website that you will be surprised at the resilience of your offspring.


The subject of children and diabetes, and their schooling, is one which obviously attracts a wide range of defensive actions from parents. This is only natural when you are literally considering the life and the health of your children, more in the early years after they have first been diagnosed, although it does seem as though parents do adapt and children seem to adapt even quicker.

As long as all parties involved, parents, children and schools, are all aware of their particular role in the everyday life of a diabetic child then there should be no major issues. The child must be comfortable enough to ask for assistance at school if they feel unwell for any reason and in many ways this is very similar to the way in which more traditional illnesses are treated amongst young children during school hours.

If you have a child who is diabetic you will probably have a number of questions you would like answered, a number of queries in your mind and perhaps talking to somebody in the same situation would be very beneficial? There is no point in keeping all of your concerns and your emotions under wraps because there are literally thousands if not millions of people in the same boat as you, they have been there, their children have been there and the vast majority of them have come to terms with the situation. Help is at hand!

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the 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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