As part of Diabetes Awareness Month we’ve launched a series looking at ways you can support a loved one to manage their diabetes, beginning last week with how you can support a parent.
This week we’re going to be focusing on ways you can support a child. For a child, being diagnosed with diabetes can be confusing and scary and often they look to their parents for reassurance. As a parent, you will want to know how best you can support your child, so we’ve put together some suggestions which you might find helpful.
- Build independence
If your child was diagnosed with diabetes at a young age it is likely that you would have taken on most of the management responsibilities. But as your child grows older, it’s important that they learn how to manage their own diabetes. With your encouragement and support, letting your child take on more responsibilities such as administering their own insulin or testing their blood sugars can make them feel more confident in managing their diabetes.
- Work together with schools
Many parents feel worried about their child going to school and might have concerns about whether the staff will be able to manage their diabetes. Communication is key for ensuring that the school is aware of your child’s individual needs so that they are well supported. Your child’s paediatric diabetes specialist nurse can help you and the school to draft an Individual Healthcare Plan (IHP) which contains information on what support they’d need to manage their diabetes.
- Get them involved in cooking
Getting the kids involved in cooking can be a great way to teach them about food and show them how different foods can affect their blood sugar levels. You could choose some family friendly recipes to cook together, for example, then create a shopping list for your child to help you look for the ingredients in the supermarket.
- Encourage them to educate others
It’s likely that your child might get asked about their diabetes by friends and other children at their school. Encouraging them to talk about it, providing they are happy to do so, can help them to feel more comfortable and they might be less likely to feel isolated or different to the other children.
- Offer emotional support
For a child, a diabetes diagnosis can have a lot of emotional implications. Some children may find it easier to talk about their emotions than others but it’s important to make them aware that you’re there to support them if they do want to talk. You could also encourage them to write down their feelings if they would find that easier than talking. Planning fun activities or trips out together can be a great way to take their minds off their diabetes and help them to feel more relaxed.
- Remember to look after yourself
Managing your child’s diabetes can sometimes be stressful and it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. If you feel that you need someone to talk to there are many support groups available for parents of children with diabetes, you could even check out our Diabetes.co.uk Forum. Looking after ourselves puts us in a better position to care for others, make sure you schedule in some time to yourself to do something that you enjoy doing.