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How to Talk to your Child about Diabetes

Learning that your child has diabetes is difficult.  Figuring out how to explain diabetes to your child may seem even more so.

Here are some tips from Debbie Butler, L.I.C.S.W., C.D.E., Clinical Social Worker, Pediatrics and Behavioral and Mental Health, Joslin Clinic, to help you when talking with your child about their diabetes diagnosis.

Be honest and open – Always tell the truth, even when it is difficult. Encourage your child to ask questions and keep an open dialogue. 

Keep it age appropriate – A young child doesn’t need the same kind of detail that you would tell a teenager. Make sure you use language that best fits your child’s age and readiness.

It’s not your fault - Younger children especially need to hear that they did not do anything that caused them to have diabetes. It is not because they are “bad” or did something wrong.

Explain the disease – Tell your child that diabetes will not go away, like a cold. Also, some children think they will die from diabetes because the first part of the word sounds like die. Assure them that this is not the case!

It’s ok to be upset – Let your child know that it’s normal to be upset about having diabetes. Encourage your child to talk about their feelings.

Be positive – Make sure your child knows that s/he can do the same things as a child without diabetes. You can get diabetes under control and live a normal, healthy life.

Page last updated: October 30, 2014