How to Manage Your Kid's Type 1 Diabetes
When your child is going to be away from you, plan ahead for greater peace of mind. Your child should wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace at all times. Make sure caregivers know the basics of diabetes care. Have a plan that teachers, coaches, friends' parents, and others in charge of your child know. Mom Lisa Sterling gave each a notebook of how-tos and symptoms to watch for.
"Diabetes camps" for kids with type 1 can be great practice for longer trips away from home. They have trained health staff on hand, and they let your child spend time with other kids with the same condition. They can compare notes and have a chance to feel less "different."
The Transition to Self-Care
Much depends on what age your child is diagnosed with type 1. Those who find out when they are very young may be ready to check and track their own blood sugar by grade school. Others may need more help. It takes time to learn the routine and to become aware of how your body feels when blood sugar is too high or too low.
There's no fixed age to manage diabetes without help. "Even a teen can't do it all without a parent's support, like sharing care at night or on sick days," says Chiang.
The basic idea is to slowly involve your child more and more in food choices, tracking, listening to their body, and other parts of care. That's good prep for the day she moves out of the house.
Adolescence is a trying time for any teenager. Rebelliousness happens. And when your child has type 1 diabetes, that may come in the form of not taking good care of their disease.
"Teens don't like control and often slack off on care," says Hulke. "But this disease is all about control."
It’s not uncommon for kids with stable blood sugar levels through childhood to run into trouble in the teen years. With extra TLC, watching, and patience, most do fine.
Care at College
One day your child will move out of the house. It helps to create a "transition plan" with your doctor (like finding a new doctor in advance).
"It's like driving. Yes, teens have a greater chance of accidents. But when you're aware of this, you're more cautious," says Chiang. "And with practice it gets easier."