How to Help Your Child Cope with Having Diabetes
Posted on March 29, 2015 | Author and Reviewed by: Rose Ann C. Galera, RPh
Diabetes can one of the most difficult things to hear for a parent as diagnosis for their child. Of course, it is more difficult on the child: one day he or she is a happy, energetic child who can eat anything and everything they want, but the next they must succumb to drinking medicine for diabetes and forced to follow a long list of restrictions that, in a perfect world, no child should ever deal with.
This is the case for millions of kids around the world and their parents. Juvenile diabetes is no joke. If adults are having a hard time controlling and sticking to the diet, how about a child who is naturally fond of sweets and does not want to be any different from the other kids in the playground?
What are the types of Diabetes?
The most common type of diabetic diagnosis in children is type 1, which is also known as Juvenile diabetes due to the fact that it is more common among the young ones. Children are rarely diagnosed with pediatric type 2 diabetes but in recent years there has been an increase in number of children with type 2 diabetes.
How can we cope?
Telling your child they have a chronic illness can be quite hard so prepare yourself for the fireworks. As a parent, you yourself might not be doing so well either, asking why it had to be your sweet, innocent child and not you instead? As difficult as it is for you as well, remember that your child looks up to you and needs you to be strong. Tackle the problem together.
The diagnosis can be quite shock for him or her. There might be a few tears and your kid might wish or want the whole fiasco to be a dream. Or, most likely, they might not understand the sickness as it is, but do not like the consequences.
It is also absolutely normal to be mad and sad. They might ask, “Why me?” They might be mad that they have diabetes. They might even get mad at you or their siblings. They might think it is unfair that they have it and the rest of the family doesn’t. They might blame themselves for getting diabetes and being an additional hardship on the family. Teach them that it isn’t so. Teach them that it is okay to be diabetic and that you will help them through it.
Your child might feel frightened also not because of the disease itself but because his or her friends might not accept them anymore because of it. Tell them that their friends will still be friends no matter what happens to them. If it helps, you can talk to the parents of your child’s friends about the diagnosis so that they can explain to their kid what is going on with their pal.
Older kids may rebel. They may go in denial about the illness and refuse to take their medicine and pretend that they do not have diabetes. They may think that having diabetes makes them different, that their peers may reject them. Talk with them. Tell them that denying the diagnosis is extremely dangerous and may cause diabetic coma. Tell them that having diabetes does not change who they are. Talk to their doctor or school counselor about it as they may help your teen deal with the big switch from healthy teen to diabetic teen.
Show your child that having diabetes isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it is the beginning of a whole new challenging but fruitful journey. Look at Nick Jonas, an American singer-songwriter, musician, and actor. He was diagnosed just as his career was soaring at 16. Although he too was angry and frustrated at first, he soon accepted it and is now known as “Mr. Positive” in the Diabetic community. Bret Michaels, lead singer of the rock band Poison, was diagnosed at age 6, advises diabetics
“Accept that you have the disease. Keep taking your insulin. Keep it under control. Also, enjoy your life. I have stayed in good physical shape by having mind, matter, and music over the disease.”
It may be a big adjustment but as long as you manage and keep a positive outlook, you can help your child become not just a survivor, but a warrior.