Summary: In this excerpt from my book Kids First, Diabetes Second I talk about putting diabetes in the background and not making it the focus of all your interactions with your child with type 1 diabetes. This section is part of the chapter called “Less Stress, More Happiness.”
Putting Diabetes in the Background
Your child has diabetes, but is diabetes all your child is? Of course not. It’s our job as parents to make sure our d-kids can be the kids they are meant to be, without making diabetes a burden they must think about every minute of the day. Diabetes needs to become background noise. Yes, your child needs to have their blood sugar checked and get insulin, but these should become minor interruptions, not the most prominent events each day.
Your attitude toward diabetes will likely be the attitude your child adopts. If you’re relaxed, your child will be relaxed. If you’re high strung, you better believe your child will become stressed about diabetes, too!
I personally don’t like my daughter to start her day thinking about her diabetes. I know you have those 15 seconds every morning, before you hear your child stir, when you wonder if she’s still alive in there. I get it. It’s scary. But does she need to start her day like that?
When your child comes into your room or meets you downstairs in the kitchen, don’t let the first questions out of your mouth be “Did you check your blood sugar? What was your number?” You’ll get to that in a few minutes. If they are walking and talking and not telling you that they feel low, then it can wait. Instead, ask them how they slept, let them tell you about their dreams, or ask them what they’re excited about for the day. In other words, start the day on a positive note.
The same goes for after school. If your child had blood sugar issues during the school day, I’m sure the nurse or other staff already called you. When your child comes out into the schoolyard, you can see they’re just fine. Unless they feel low, resist the urge to immediately check their blood sugar. Let them linger with their friends for a few minutes or play on the playground. Don’t let the first questions you ask be “What was your lunchtime number? Did you remember to test when you were supposed to? Did you eat all of your lunch?” Instead, ask how your child’s day was.
Every day, during the drive home, my daughter tells me three things about her school day. It makes her feel like I care about her day and keeps me informed about what’s going on at school. If any of her three things have to do with diabetes, and they usually don’t, it’s because she wanted to tell me about it, not because I put an emphasis on it. Q may test her blood sugar in the car as we drive or when we arrive back home, but it’s not the focus of our chitchatting.
When you arrive home and your child throws down his or her backpack while running through the house to the backyard, that’s the time to get out the meter or logbook and look at the numbers from the day. You can follow up in a little while if you have questions about their blood sugar levels or how much insulin the child received.
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!
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.