If you’re the parent of a child with diabetes, it can sometimes seem like the whole world is balancing on your shoulders. Besides managing school pickups and soccer drop offs, food allergies and friend alliances, the latest homework and wondering if you have to bake cupcakes for this week’s school party, you’re the managing director of someone else’s pancreas, constantly adjusting the social and emotional needs of a little one who’s only trying to understand the complexities and repercussions of the condition themselves. It’s enough to make your head spin. And if you’ve been at it for a while, you may be wondering when is the right time to transition diabetes care to your child, and how to do so.
Here are our top tips:
Let Them Be Curious!
If your little one is showing curiosity about their diabetes care, by all means, let them be curious! Start explaining how carbohydrate counting works, and let them pack their lunch with you at night and partake in the meal planning at home. Let them measure rice at dinner, and mix ingredients when baking, and start doing the mental diabetes math as a team. You can even walk them through their insulin sensitivity, so they can practice dosing until they get it right.
Learn to Let Go, if Only a Little
Letting go can be hard! And this is where technology is a blessing and a curse. Before Dexcom and bluetooth technology, children had to muddle through their highs, and speak up when they felt low, but everything is recorded on a device now, which can sometimes create a dependency on said technology. Some children cannot reliably feel a low or a high because they’ve relied on a device to tell them their levels for so long.
If your child doesn’t exhibit signs of hypo-unawareness, let them spend a day without their CGM on, and have them speak up any time they feel high or low. These vocal cues will be important when they’re managing on their own and will need to find a snack or take a shot when they’re out of range.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
It’s important to remember that there is no typical age for the self-management of diabetes in children. A child may be newly diagnosed in high school and still not feel comfortable giving shots, whereas a child diagnosed at 3 may be a whiz when it comes to pump changes at age 9. Typically children will approach their parents when they’re ready to self-manage; the process needn’t be rushed.
Meet Other Friends with Type 1 Diabetes
Exposing your child to other kids living with type 1 diabetes is a great way for them to start taking control of their condition and owning it. Sign up for a local diabetes walk or 5k, attend a children’s diabetes support group, or sign your child up for summer diabetes camp. Meeting other friends with diabetes will do wonders to help develop independence and confidence in managing their diabetes, and can be helpful if a kiddo is reluctant to start taking over their care for a long time.
Progress, Not Perfection
It’s important to remember that there is no such thing as perfect diabetes management. If they miscount carbs for a meal, that’s okay! If they forget to put Skin Tac on during a site change, the world won’t end. Celebrate small wins, and positively reinforce good effort, and everyone will be happy, healthy, and managing independently in no time!
Have you recently transitioned diabetes care to your child? What strategies worked best for you? Share this post and comment below!
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