When your child has diabetes, you have an important job to do. You check their blood sugar levels, give them insulin, make sure they eat the right foods, and keep their 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 their blood sugar levels, what the target numbers are, and what method is best for them. You can prick their finger or test another body part, or your child may have a special blood glucose meter.
Kids don’t like needle pricks, but there are ways to make this easier:
- Breathing exercises. Breathe deeply with them to help them relax. If they are calm, the pinch won’t be so bad. If you have a younger child, have them blow into a bubble wand. That’ll encourage them to exhale slowly and deeply.
- Let them choose which finger to prick. Have them count down to zero with you so they know when they’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, they won’t feel like they’re missing out. Ask their doctor if they can have treats on special occasions like birthdays, and whether you’ll need to adjust their insulin if they do.
If your child plays sports or has plans to be more active than usual, check their blood sugar levels before they begin the activity. Check again while they’re active and when they’re done.
Exercise can affect blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours, so they may need to take extra insulin or eat extra snacks. Work with their doctor to come up with a plan made just for them.
Keep School Informed
Make a medical management plan with the help of your child’s doctor. Give their 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 they should get when their blood sugar levels are too high or too low?
- Can they monitor blood sugar levels themselves?
- 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 their 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 they’ll want to manage it by themselves, 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 they grow into an adult.
If your teen is ready to manage their diabetes on their own, try these things to help them feel more responsible:
- Let go of control slowly, and make sure they can handle the job.
- Try not to nag about their self-care.
- Praise them when they do well. It will inspire them to want to keep up the good work.
- Allow them some alone time with the doctor. This can help them feel more in control of their care.
- Remind them that they can talk to you about anything, whenever they need to.