Advice for Parents of Children with Diabetes

When you learned that your child has diabetes, you may have experienced disbelief, grief, and guilt. Maybe you asked, "Why did this happen to my child?" Maybe you cried out, "It's not fair! " You must come to grips with these feelings so that you can learn the tasks and techniques of diabetes control. Your whole family needs to make adjustments to your child's condition. How you deal with and accept diabetes affects the way your child deals with and accept diabetes. The more you know about diabetes, the better equipped you are to help your child. Read this section, and get a copy of Children With Diabetes by Linda Siminerios and Jean Betchart, available from your American Diabetes Association state or national affiliate, or from Diabetes Supplies, 8181 North Stadium Drive, Houston, Texas 77054.

As a parent, you are naturally anxious, but it's up to you to help your child accept his or her diabetes with a minimum of stress. The American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation can be of great help. Other parents who have faced the same problem and learned to cope with it are more than willing to share ideas and advice. You must learn to protect without dominating, to supervise while encouraging self-care. Work with your child for the best control, but remember that "ideal" control isn't always possible.

Your child's self image and self esteem are threatened by diabetes. Be understanding and supportive. Try to avoid unnecessary anxiety about "cheating." You don't want to cause guilt feelings, or make your child think he or she is "bad." Children who think are bad may act accordingly. Help your child plan ahead. No child can should be expected to assume complete responsibility for diabetes control at too early an age. But, ultimately, responsibility for eating properly, injecting insulin, testing blood sugar, and planning exercise will be the child's. Maturity, independence, self control, and self esteem will grow as your child learns self-care.

A child with diabetes is a child first, and a person with diabetes second. Like all children, yours needs to grow physically, socially, and emotionally. Alert parents who are relaxed, knowledgeable, tolerant, and accepting help in the growing process. Feelings of guilt and resentment lead to problems between spouses and between parents and children. Your child's diabetes is a challenge your whole family must face together. It is not a punishment for anything any of you did.

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