When a child is diagnosed with diabetes, it impacts not only them but also their family, schools, and society. It can pose physical, mental, and emotional challenges for all sides. The adjustment to the diagnosis of diabetes can take 6-9 months for the child and 9-12 months for parents.
Stressors in everyday life such as family disagreements and bullying in school can greatly affect your child’s blood glucose control. Families play a crucial role in the adjustment of children with their diagnosis. It affects the level of care and their daily management regimens.
#1. Single Out
Children and adolescents with diabetes often feel different from their peers; therefore, it is important to help them recognize they have a condition that requires some discipline. Profess your understanding of their concept of wanting to be normal and ensure that there is support from family and friends.
#2. School Distress
They often feel anxious when starting school: discuss your child’s needs with the teachers, school nurses, and staff of your child’s condition and ensure that they are educated to treat hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Assure your child that they have been notified and that there are people who will and can help them if needed.
#3. Peer Pressure
Support: inform your child regarding the choice of friends. Peer support was found to be important for adolescents in adjusting to diabetes and in controlling blood glucose. They can also be pressured into smoking, alcohol, drugs and unprotected sex which may affect their diabetes.
#4. The Weight Issue
Girls with diabetes may have eating disorders: weight gain during these difficult years can lead to low self-esteem and depression. They may need more support from outside the home, such as from friends, schools, or even healthcare personnel.
Children and adolescents may find long-term contact and supervision by parents and healthcare providers to be annoying: it is important to emphasize the importance of follow-ups and discipline for glucose control. Try reasoning and gradual compromising as they strive to be more independent. However, it should be considered unsafe for them to take full responsibility for their own care and management before reaching an adequate level of maturity.
Increased attention to the diabetic child may lead to sibling rivalry and jealousy, and this may be prevented by including siblings in the care regimen. They can be an asset as they can assist when the parents are unavailable. Education is important to avoid the fear of transmission and assuring that they have no role in the cause of the disease. It is important for us to recognize how children and adolescents are affected by their diagnosis of diabetes as they are in a vulnerable position and require support from their family, friends and healthcare providers.
- Guthrie DW, Bartsocas C, Jarosz-Chabot P, Konstantinova M. Psychosocial issues for children and adolescents with diabetes: overview and recommendations. Diabetes Spectrum. 2003; 16(1):7-12.
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