Tips for Parents

Diabetes can bring many changes. There are changes in eating healthy foods, daily medicines, checking blood sugar and activity levels. These changes could upset family routines. It is important for the family to understand diabetes. It is also important to work through the issues that can occur for the person with diabetes and their family.

How can you support your child's diabetes management?

  • Remember that your child is a child first. This means your child may need to test limits, fit into his peer groups and assert independence. As a parent you must maintain enough guidance to insure a safe and healthy lifestyle. You also must assist your child in becoming more independent in diabetes self-care.
  • Look at your attitude and acceptance of your child's diagnosis of diabetes. How you deal with and accept diabetes affects the way your child deals with and accepts diabetes.
  • Encourage your child to work with their doctor to come up with a self-care plan. This plan should come closest to meeting your child's needs for activities and daily living.
  • Encourage your child to talk about their life with diabetes and its treatment. It will bring a sense of control over diabetes. It also helps create skills to talk with people. These routines will aid in the future as life and treatment continue to change.
  • Work with a dietitian for a meal plan that includes your child's and your family's food choices.
  • Learn how to plan for exercise, gym and other activities. Check blood sugar more often. Increase or decrease food, adjust insulin as needed.
  • Be sure your child carries a source of carbohydrate at all times. This way your child will be able to treat emergencies, like low blood sugar, if they occur.
  • If you have a child that attends school or daycare, you need to help teachers understand diabetes and how to care for your child's needs.
  • Watch how you say things. Say blood "check," not blood "test." A child needs to know that they do not pass or fail the "test." The check is simply a blood sugar value. Also, say "high" and "low," not "bad" and "good." Good and bad can reflect success or failure.

What can you do about sibling rivalry? Sibling rivalry can become a problem in households affected by diabetes. A sibling may feel the child with diabetes gets all the attention. On the other hand, the child with diabetes may feel the parents do not let him do the same activities their brothers and sisters can do.

Here are some hints to help reduce sibling rivalry:

  • Talk with your whole family about the need for some extra attention to manage your child's diabetes and health.
  • Let children discuss their feelings. Involve them in solving problems.
  • Set aside special times with each child. Focus only on him or her.
  • Let the child with diabetes take part in all activities with their siblings.
  • Feed the same food to everyone in the family. Learn how to fit their favorite meals into the diabetes meal plan.

What can you do when your child is sick at home? Children can pick up many illnesses from others at school and daycare. Here are a few reminders:

  • Never skip an insulin dose, even if your child is sick or is not able to eat or keep food down. Illness may cause an increased need for insulin.
  • Check your child?s blood sugar at least every 2-4 hours.
  • Check the urine for ketones several times a day.
  • If your child is feeling sick and cannot follow their meal plan, try small amounts of liquids, such as grape juice or regular cola.

Important things to remember

  • Be well-informed about diabetes.
  • Be flexible about trying new eating and exercise routines.
  • Whenever possible, help your child meet their goals.
  • Set a good example with your own use of alcohol and avoidance of drugs. For your teen, make sure they understand the effects of alcohol on blood sugar. Alcohol can mask signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. Smoking and illegal use of drugs can also have negative health effects.