Explaining Type 2 Diabetes to Your Child

It’s usually best to let your children know about your diabetes
It’s usually best to let your children know about your diabetes

If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you will have the choice about whether and when you let your children know about your diabetes.

Particularly if your diabetes is controlled with lifestyle changes or certain tablets, there may not be a need as such to let your children know about your diabetes but there are some benefits in letting your sons or daughters know.

Benefits of telling your children

Children tend to be perceptive and can sense even if they can’t always understand small signs of emotion. By telling your children about your diabetes, you will enable them to understand and take into account any times your diabetes may be causing you difficulty or concern.

If you are at risk of low blood glucose levels, it’s usually a good idea to tell your children. See our guide on explaining hypos to younger children.

Disadvantages of telling your children

A potential disadvantage of telling your children about your diabetes is if it causes them excessive anxiety. It’s best to avoid times your children are stressed or upset in case the news is taken badly at these times.

It will help to tell your children at a time when they are in a good position to take in your diagnosis as well as when you are also comfortable in discussing your diabetes.

Some of us may prefer to keep our diabetes private. If telling your children about your diabetes may lead to too many people knowing about your diabetes you may choose not to discuss your diabetes with your children or at least wait until a time you feel more comfortable.

When to tell your children?

It very much comes down to personal choice and your own circumstances as to when to tell your children you have diabetes.

Some people will prefer to let their family know as soon as they’ve been diagnosed whereas others may want to wish to wait until they’ve come to terms with the diagnosis before telling others.

The age of your children may also be a factor in when you tell them about your diabetes. If you have young children, you may prefer to tell them when they ask questions, which may include asking why you take tablets or insulin.

Explaining type 2 diabetes to young children

I have diabetes which means my blood has too much sugar in it. When you eat, the food you have gives you energy but my diabetes makes it harder for my body to turn the food I eat into energy.

I have to be careful to eat the right kind of food and the right amounts to make sure my body can cope properly with turning the food into energy.

If you take insulin, you can explain that insulin is a fluid produced in the body that helps turn the food we eat into energy. You can explain that you take insulin because your body doesn’t make enough insulin to get the full amount of energy from the food you eat.

Answering whether your child will get diabetes too

In most cases, type 2 diabetes usually comes on later in life so, in most cases, your child needn’t overly worry about diabetes coming on within their childhood. In some cases, type 2 diabetes can affect children but this is rare and usually only occurs in very overweight children.

There is a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes if a parent has it but it is by no means a certainty. You may want to let your child know that they could get diabetes but that it usually only comes later into adult life and that it can be controlled and doesn’t have to stop you enjoying life.

Explore Parenting and Diabetes