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Understanding Your Child’s Feelings about Diabetes

Living with diabetes can be emotionally challenging for your child.  Jennifer Douglass, M.Ed., Child Life Specialist at Joslin Diabetes Center, discusses some common feelings your child with diabetes may have and how you can help him or her cope.

Feeling “Different” with Diabetes

One of the most common concerns that children with diabetes have is that they don’t want to appear “different” from classmates, friends and siblings, according to Douglass. This is often difficult when a child is first diagnosed with diabetes, but can continue to worry your child as he or she grows.

What you can do:  Try to make diabetes care just another part of the day. In school, work with the nurse and your child’s teacher to make diabetes management less of a distraction for your child.  For example, see if your child can keep diabetes supplies and snacks in the classroom.  If he or she has to go to the nurse, try to avoid disrupting the most social time of the day, like snack time.  At home, establish a consistent routine.  Making diabetes management a part of the day, like brushing your teeth, is a challenge, but necessary for your child.

Frustration/Diabetes Burnout

“Your child will likely feel very frustrated about having diabetes at some point,” Douglass says.  It is common for children to be upset about having diabetes, which can sometimes lead to diabetes burnout.

What you can do:  Douglass emphasizes the importance of “being open as family, always communicating and discussing the good, the bad and everything in between."  It is also important to use the support your diabetes health care team can provide.  "At Joslin, we have a whole team of family support providers, social workers and child life specialists who specialize in working with children who have diabetes. It is a huge part of our care here.”

To make an appointment with a Joslin Child Life Specialist, please call (617) 732-2603.

Caring for Young Children Living with Diabetes: A Manual for Parents is written to help all caregivers - parents, grandparents, older siblings, teachers, daycare providers, doctors, nurses and neighbors - manage the young child's diabetes so he or she enjoys a full and healthy life.

Click here to purchase this book from the Joslin Store.

Page last updated: April 16, 2014