How To Help Your Child Understand Diabetes

If your child has just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it can be a shock to them. There will be changes you’ll have to make in their life to manage their health, that can upset them. To help them get used to their new normal, you’ll need to know how to talk to them about this change. Here are some tips on how to talk to your child about diabetes, and help them understand it.

Be Honest With Them

As your child’s parent, your first instinct will be to protect them from the reality of diabetes. It’s understandable, but it isn’t going to help your child in the long run. You’ll want to be honest with them, so they can understand what it means for them.

Be upfront about what it means for them. That will include all the new things they’ll have to do, such as monitoring their diet, testing their glucose levels, getting insulin shots, and so on. You’ll also want to tell them that Type 1 diabetes isn’t preventable, and that it won’t be going away. Being honest means you’re setting their expectations early, so they know what they’ll be living with.

Impress Upon Them That Insulin Is Necessary

Insulin, like any other medication your child will have to take, is necessary. It’s understandable that your child may not want to take their medicine, as it’s scary and new. As their parent though, you’ll need to impress upon them that they have to take insulin to stay healthy.

“It’s hard for children, as they don’t want to be different from others, and many don’t like needles” says Fiona Miles, a health writer from UK Top Writers. “However, there can’t be days they don’t feel like it, they have to take it every day.” If you set these expectations early, you’ll find your child can get used to insulin shots and adapt rather quickly.

Help Them Understand Their Symptoms

Understanding your symptoms is important as a Type 1 diabetes patient. If the patient is a child, then their parents can keep a close eye on them. However, you’re not always going to be there to spot them. As such, you need to teach the child to understand their own symptoms.

Teach your child how to spot the onset of symptoms, and if they feel them, to come and tell you or a responsible adult. For younger children this should be enough. For older children, teach them how to monitor their glucose levels, and get them to keep track of it. Giving them that responsibility will help them understand their condition, and take it seriously.

Show That Sweet Treats Are Still Allowed

As a child, getting a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis can make them assume that they won’t be allowed sweet treats again. Of course that’s going to be upsetting, but you can assure them that they can indeed have them every now and again. They’ll just need to be slotted into the child’s eating plan for the day.

Letting them know that they can still have treats will go a long way to assuaging your child’s fears about their new diagnosis.

Assure Them Their Life Will Mostly Stay The Same

As well as sweet treats, children may assume that their lives will be drastically different now they have a diagnosis. It can feel like their whole world has been turned upside down, and that causes them a lot of stress.

“It’s very important that you show your child that life will mostly be the same” says psychology writer Shaun O’Neill, from State of writing. “When you assure them of this, they’ll be much better equipped to handle the news.”

Show them that they can do all the things they used to do. They’ll just need to monitor their blood sugar levels and take their medication as needed.

Getting a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis can feel scary for a child, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know how to talk to them about it, they’ll be able to come to terms with it and manage their health with your help. Be honest with them, and show them life doesn’t have to change because of it.

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