Tips to Help Your Child With Diabetes

When your child has diabetes, you have an important job to do. You check her blood sugar levels, give her insulin, make sure she eats the right foods, and keep her blood sugar in a healthy range at all times. It’s a lot -- but you can manage when you know what to do in every situation.

Stay on Target With Blood Sugar Tests

Your child’s doctor will tell you how often to check her blood sugar levels, what the target numbers are, and what method is best for her. You can prick her finger or test another body part, or your child may have a special blood glucose meter.

It may be up to you to give her insulin, either by injection or through an insulin pump. Your doctor will let you know how much to give and when to give it.

Kids don’t like needle pricks, but there are ways to make this easier:

  • Breathing exercises. Breathe deeply with her to help her relax. If she is calm, the pinch won’t be so bad. If you have a younger child, have her blow into a bubble wand. That’ll encourage her to exhale slowly and deeply.
  • Let her choose which finger to prick. Have her count down to zero with you so she knows when she’ll feel the stick.

Eat Healthy -- as a Family

If your child has diabetes, encourage the whole family to eat healthier. If everyone makes changes, she won’t feel like she’s missing out. Ask her doctor if she can have treats on special occasions like birthdays, and whether you’ll need to adjust her insulin if she does.

Monitor Exercise

If your child plays sports or has plans to be more active than usual, check her blood sugar levels before she begins the activity. Check again while she’s active and when she’s done.

Exercise can affect blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours, so she may need to take extra insulin or eat extra snacks. Work with her doctor to come up with a plan made just for her.

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Keep School Informed

Make a medical management plan with the help of your child’s doctor. Give her school a copy. It should spell out what the school should do for every situation. The following questions can help you get started:

  • What treatment should she should get when her blood sugar levels are too high or too low?
  • Can she monitor blood sugar levels herself?
  • What are the guidelines for playing sports based on blood sugar levels or other factors?

Together, you and the staff at your child’s school can help make sure her diabetes stays under control.

Let Your Teen Become More Independent

Teenagers want more freedom and independence. If your teen has diabetes, it’s very likely she’ll want to manage it by herself, or at least with much less help from you.

It may be scary for you to let go of some of that control, since there might be slip-ups and problems along the way, but it’s an important step as she grows into an adult.

If your teen is ready to manage her diabetes on her own, try these things to help her feel more responsible:

  • Let go of control slowly, and make sure she can handle the job.
  • Try not to nag about her self-care.
  • Praise her when she does well. It will inspire her to want to keep up the good work.
  • Allow her some alone time with the doctor. This can help her feel more in control of her care.
  • Remind her that she can talk to you about anything, whenever she needs to.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 04, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

Nemours Foundation: “Type 1 diabetes: What is it?”

American Diabetes Association: “Shots & blood glucose checks.”

Diabetes Research Institute Foundation: “Your child was just diagnosed with diabetes: Now what?”

American Diabetes Association: “Food & Fun,” “Sports & recreation,” School,” “Diabetes medical management plan.”

Diabetes Research Institute Foundation: “The trials and tribulations of the teen years.”

American Diabetes Association: “Communicating with your child.”

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