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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Type 1 Diabetes in Children: Emotional Issues
A diagnosis of
type 1 diabetes can be difficult to deal with at any
age, but it can be particularly hard for a child. Children face special
emotional and physical challenges in dealing with their disease. Your child
will probably experience a wide range of emotions, which may change from minute
to minute. Be sure you are as supportive as possible as your child learns how to manage the disease and cope with feeling
A child's diabetes diagnosis can also be very hard
for parents to accept. And many parents have feelings of guilt or anger.
Your child may perceive these emotions as being directed at him or her rather
than at the disease. You may need to tell your child that your
frustration lies with the situation.
Your child's diagnosis will
likely affect your entire family. It may at times seem as though your child's
diabetes has completely taken over your family life, affecting the entire
family's eating habits and lifestyle. Feelings of resentment are not uncommon.
But for your child to have the most effective treatment and achieve the
greatest level of control over diabetes, it's important that you play a
supportive role in his or her treatment. This can be a difficult balancing act,
because children need support and help but also need to develop
Because children are still developing emotionally, a
diagnosis of diabetes often affects the way they think of themselves in
relation to their peers. It may help for your child to explain to classmates
what diabetes is and to show them how a blood glucose meter works. Insulin
injections or an insulin pump may seem strange to your child's classmates. You or your child may
have to explain to them why insulin is needed.
It is important
that you allow your child to do activities that other children do. Your child
can still play sports, stay overnight with friends, and eat the foods that
classmates do. It just takes a little more planning and preparing than it did
If your child develops
diabetes at a young age, you will need to take most of the responsibility for
his or her treatment. This means giving injections and closely tracking
what your child eats. This can be a very frustrating experience, as children
often fail to grasp the importance of their treatment and may resent it. Also, if your child is very young, he or she may not understand why you are
giving the injections. Your child may also perceive your frustration as anger
at him or her for having diabetes.
Although the treatment for
diabetes may be the same, a teenager with the disease will likely confront
different emotional issues than either a child or an adult would.
Teenagers have more control over their treatment, which can
be both positive and negative. This independence gives parents a reprieve from
constantly caring for their child. But it may be just as frightening to
have your teen monitoring his or her own treatment.
There are also the added challenges of a teen learning to
drive, playing competitive sports, and going on weekend trips. You are not with
your teen every moment to make sure he or she is following the diabetes
Your teen will have the normal rebellious tendencies
of all teenagers. He or she will sometimes make mistakes. During these
times, help your teen learn from the experience. Developing or having diabetes
during the teenage years isn't easy. But your teen is at an excellent age
to understand the disease and its treatment and to take over some of the
responsibilities of his or her care.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Stephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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