Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition in which the body loses its ability of insulin production or start using insulin less efficiently.
People with type 1 diabetes need to inject insulin regularly, however, people with type II diabetes can manage their condition regular testing, exercise, and careful diet.
Diabetes and Children and Teens:
Till the recent past, children and teens with diabetes had type I, but now, they are getting type II diabetes as well. This is mainly due to the lifestyle and increasing obesity.
Many children and teens who recently got diagnosed with diabetes struggle with their emotional reactions to this condition. They may also have to face the reactions of others and many of them are hesitant in going to school.
Not only children but also their family need a time period to accept the situation once they are diagnosed with diabetes. They need to learn to monitor their blood glucose level using a diabetes meter.
These young people also need to learn how to inject insulin, count carbohydrates, cope up with the fluctuating levels of blood glucose, and see diabetes health professionals on a regular basis.
Both children and teens face new challenged at every stage of their life.
Reactions to Diabetes Diagnosis:
Any person, especially, a child or a teenager, face a range of emotions. Usually, children diagnosed with diabetes and their parents are shocked, angry, and in a state of denial. They may be feeling sad, fear, and guilt.
However, most of these feelings are subside as the time passes. Appropriate support also helps these individuals overcome their emotions.
Some common reactions to the diagnosis of diabetes include:
- Anxiety about their condition
- Fear of multiple injections that too may be daily
- Overwhelmed by performing daily tasks including injection and using diabetes meter
- Frustrating on the fluctuating levels of blood glucose
- Fear of experiencing hypoglycemia (lowblood glucose levels) while I public
- Feeling different from others
- Embarrassing of being diagnosed with diabetes and the possible negative reactions of people around them
- Difficulty in coping up with the emotions of their family members
No doubt, the period just after diagnosing is tough and challenging. In this tough time, moral support of friends, family, and healthcare team is really helpful. It can help in improving the way children and teens cope up with their diabetic condition.
Concerns of Children and Teens About their Conditions:
Living with diabetes and managing it is a real-life struggle. Usually, children are concerned about the following things:
- They may feel like a burden on the family
- Being treated differently as if they are sick
- Coping up with consistent questions about their food, their feelings, and whether or not they are taking their insulins regularly
- Getting lots of extra attention from their parents and other family members
In this situation, this is natural for children and teens to feel sad, fed up, and angry. Diabetes is a lifelong condition, and therefore, children and teens need to learn to manage it over the lifetime.
If your child is feeling anxious or depressed due to managing diabetes, you should seek help from your diabetes healthcare. A psychologist may also be helpful in such cases.
In certain cases, you may need to involve a psychiatrist as well.
Involvement of Children in Their Diabetes Management:
Parents with young children who are suffering from diabetes remain highly involved in the diabetes management of their child. However, it is important to give your child the required training and confidence to allow them to manage their diabetes on their own.
The process of making children and teens independent in managing their diabetes could be difficult for both.
Following are some suggestions that will help you in making your child more independent in managing their diabetes:
- As the first step, teach your child to check their sugar level using a diabetes meter.
- Keep your child involved in managing their diabetes from the beginning.
- Encourage your child to attend different diabetes camps.
- Be careful while making your child independent in managing his/her diabetes and do not make them solely responsible for managing.
With lots of support, love, guidance, and confidence you can teach your child to take care of their diabetes on daily basis.