November is Diabetes Awareness Month and you might be saying “Yeah, but diabetes is every single day.” When Diabetes Awareness Month is over, our child’s diabetes continues. Because diabetes affects every minute of every day, it’s easy for a child to get burned out. It’s even easy for the parent or caregiver to get burned out! (Lack of sleep, anyone?!) Here is an excerpt from Kids First, Diabetes Second where I discuss some signs of burn out and suggestions to deal with it.
Dealing With Burnout
Just like their caregivers, kids with diabetes are susceptible to burnout. In fact, a large percentage of teens and young adults, particularly those who have been living with type 1 for many years, hit a wall at some point. Suddenly, a once-compliant kid declares, “I don’t want to do this anymore!” which, of course, is not an option. But, who can blame them? There is no break from diabetes. A constant schedule of blood sugar checks, injections, carb counting and your well-intended concern can take its toll.
Sometimes burnout is not as blatant, and comes in the form of kids “forgetting” to check their blood sugar, or “forgetting” to bolus for a meal, which makes it harder to recognize. If your child is having erratic readings or an elevated A1c, that could be a sign of burnout. Another sign might be doing all their checks and bolusing behind closed doors.
There is really no way to avoid burnout, but if and when it happens, there are some things you can do to help:
- Be understanding. Let them know that most people struggle with this disease (including you). Acknowledge how hard it is for them.
- Take control. Even if your child has taken on most of his or her own care, burnout is a cry for help. It’s time to step back in with reminders and more diligent monitoring.
- Change things up. If they’ve been taking injections for a long time, maybe it’s time to suggest a pump, or vice versa. Talk to a dietitian about new meal choices. Ask for your child’s input on what they’d like to change (within reason).
- Never punish. Most kids with diabetes already feel somewhat punished by their diagnosis. You may only push them farther away by getting upset.
- Seek help. If your child is really struggling, it’s time to talk to a therapist or counselor, particularly one that understands diabetes issues.
As I will mention in the upcoming chapter on teen issues, some older kids can also benefit from becoming a role model or mentor to younger children. It gives them an opportunity to be empowered and focus on others. Even advocacy and fundraising efforts can make kids feel more in control. Finally, keep reminding them that although diabetes has changed their lives, there are many things that haven’t changed, such as sports, friends, hobbies, college, and opportunities for the future.
If you’d like to learn more about the book, you can read more on the Kids First, Diabetes Second book page. It’s available widely in print and as an eBook from book sellers such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and IndieBound. And if you do read it and find it to be a valuable resource, I would greatly appreciate if you could write a review on any of the online retail sites. Thanks!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to booksellers.
Please remember that I never give medical advice. Ask your endocrinologist or pediatrician for advice about your own child. Make your own informed decisions for your own child.