The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reports that 1 in 400 American children have been diagnosed with diabetes. Children are usually affected by Type 1 Diabetes, an autoimmune disease where the body is unable to make insulin. However, pediatricians are now seeing an increase in the number of children affected by Type 2 Diabetes. Unlike Type 1, Type 2 Diabetes is very closely connected to lifestyle and behaviors.
The persons living with Diabetes fully appreciate the impact the disease has on their lives and the changes that they have had to make since being diagnosed. Now, imagine this in the life of a child. It is normal for them to be scared and have questions such as: why is this happening to me? Or Is this my fault? As a parent, it is your responsibility to educate your child as much as you possibly can on the disease and how they can take good care of themselves. Teach them how to manage the disease but not let the disease manage them. By that I mean they should not be defined by diabetes; they should be taught that the disease is just a portion of their life and should not consume them.
I have adopted a list of helpful tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) website that you may find helpful to you and your child:
- Work closely with your child’s health-care team, including a registered dietitian nutritionist, to manage diabetes and help your child grow normally — physically, mentally and emotionally.
- Gradually involve your child in taking responsibility for his or her diabetes. Help your child learn when, how and where to get help, as well as the skills needed to manage their diabetes.
- Help grandparents, teachers, babysitters, coaches or any other person who spend time with your child understand your child’s diabetes.
- Help your child or teen feel comfortable about asking to leave class or play to monitor blood glucose (blood sugar) and take insulin.
- Make diabetes management part of your parenting but not the sole focus. Keep the fun in growing up for your child.
“Be Healthy Today; Healthy for Life”, a publication by the American Diabetes Association encourages youth to manage their diabetes using STAR.
STOP before you make a decision about what kind of foods you will eat and whether you will exercise or not.
THINK about your choices before you act and how they will affect your blood sugar.
ACT on the better choice for your health. Remember, change is slow. Small steps add up to big results!
REFLECT on your progress and give yourself credit when you make a healthy choice.