Diabetes and Parenting

20,000 children under the age of 15 have type 1 diabetes in the UK
20,000 children under the age of 15 have type 1 diabetes in the UK

Being a parent of a child with diabetes can bring an awful lot to consider and the responsibility can be demanding. Remember, you are not alone.

What diet should my son or daughter have? How will I manage his or her blood sugar levels? Will they get the right level care at school? How will my son or daughter cope with their own diabetes?

We answer these questions and more and if you need more advice we have a specific Diabetes Forum for Parents and Children.

Parenting guides

Don't forget to take a look at the dedicated Diabetes and Kids section.

Coming to terms with your child’s diabetes diagnosis

As a parent of a child with diabetes, the diagnosis can often be a much harder blow for the parent than for the child. Your child’s diagnosis will likely come as a great shock and it can be difficult to recognise just how much of an effect it can have on you.

Read about coping with diabetes diagnosis.

What diet should my child have?

A child with diabetes need not be prescribed a particular diabetic diet as such.

However, through blood glucose testing you may find that some foods are better for your child’s blood glucose control than others. Testing before and around 2 hours after meals is a good way to see how different meals affect your child’s blood sugar.

As with dietary advice for people in general, your child should have a balanced diet to include plenty of vegetables.

Managing your child’s blood sugar control

Watching out for hypos, being aware of hyperglycemia, monitoring and recording blood glucose levels and making sure they’re taking their doses are all involved as part of managing your child’s blood sugar. It can be a tall order at times but a little extra knowledge can go a long way.

Transcript

We interview Shirley Gorry, a retired teacher whose son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during childhood. She talks about her experience being a parent to a child with diabetes.

Should my diabetic child take part in sports?

Sports are a great activity for your child to take part in. They’ll help your child to stay fit and healthy and they’re good for the social aspects. Playing sports will lower your child’s blood sugar so they will need to test their blood before playing sports.

If a pre-sport sugar level is low or high they should not start until the level has returned to normal, as hypoglycemia could result from a low and ketones could be produced if exercising when too high.

Children and diabetes at school

To help you ensure your child gets the best education out of school, we’ve prepared advice on children with diabetes at school.

Coping with emotional issues

Growing up can be an emotional time in itself and diabetes can emphasise these emotions. Read more about the emotional issues diabetic children may have.

Diabetic children and social life

It can be a temptation to be protective of your child when it comes to their social life but bear in mind that being overprotective in limiting their social life could lead to emotional difficulties later in life.

If you’re unsure where to draw the line, it may help to speak to other parents with diabetes.

Talking to other parents of children with diabetes

Sometimes knowing what’s best for your child can be very confusing.

Connecting with other parents who have children with diabetes can help to determine the best course of action. You can discuss diabetes with other parents on our diabetes youth club forum.

Explore Parenting and Diabetes