Help, my child has diabetes!
diagnosis of diabetes or indeed any chronic illness in your child will almost
certainly be a time of extreme stress for you. You may find that much of the day to
day management of your child’s condition is placed on yourself, as he or she is too
young to care for themselves. The discomfort and anxiety surrounding blood testing
and injections doesn’t help either. You may feel guilty or angry that your child has
been singled out for this condition.
This leaflet will help you deal with some of the concerns you may have when your
child is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Administering insulin injections and monitoring blood sugars may seem daunting at
first but with help from the diabetes nurses who you meet, this will soon become
It may help if you understand that insulin injection are not particularly
painful. They are certainly a lot less painful than having a blood sample drawn or
having an intramuscular injection. It may surprise you to learn that many children
quickly become adept at administering their own insulin injections.
Ideally the whole family should take the opportunity to eat a healthier diet.
Some planning may be necessary at first.
You will have to restrict your child’s intake of sweets or chocolates. They may
feel this is ‘unfair’ especially if they are very fond of sweets. Restrictions may
be seen as a form of ‘punishment’ by very young children. Allow other treats by way
In dietary terms, fat is now seen as a greater villain than sugar. It may take
some persuasion to reduce your childs intake of fries and crisps while increasing
his or her intake of fruit and veg.
- Everyone is different but children in particular find this hard to cope with
any restrictions imposed upon them. You may want to protect your child from
feeling ‘different’ to other children. Allow them to be involved in everything
their friends are as much as possible. This particularly applies to sports.
- You will have to learn how to recognise and deal with hypoglycaemia. This
may include having to teach other family members, baby sitters and your child’s
friends how to recognise the symptoms.
- Times of illness will become more stressful as blood sugars may fluctuate
and ketones may be present
- Planning holidays and excursions may seem very complicated
- Participation in sports at school may require variations in dose of insulin.
Exercise is to be encouraged and this possibility of hypos should not deter your
child from participating in sports.
- Having teenage children who have diabetes presents a new set of challenges
for parents. This subject is addressed on a separate page.
- Involve your child in his/her diabetes care – having ownership of his
condition helps. Avoid being the controlling parent!
- Convince your family to change to a ‘healthy diet’. If you all eat together
it will be easier for your child to get used to healthy eating. It also helps
encourage regular meal times. Plan snacks and avoid junk food yourself. Teach
your child about food choices at school.
- Take up physical exercise. If your family is active your child will learn
that exercise can be fun. Walk or ride, don’t drive. Turn your child’s diagnosis
into a positive outcome for yourself by making the same lifestyle changes
- Discourage ‘couch potato’ behaviour. If your child is obese, help him lose
- Increase awareness of diabetes among family and close friends. Don’t try to
keep it a secret. Your child needs to know that diabetes is not something to be
ashamed of. Enlist the help of the school nurse to improve awareness among
classmates and teachers where appropriate, but strike a balance with your
child’s right to privacy.
- Make sure close friends know what a hypo is as your child grows up and goes
Help and information should always be available from your child’s diabetes care
Dr Nishan Wijenaike
West Suffolk Diabetes Service
Updated: November 2007