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How to Help Your Child with Diabetes

written by: Victoria Trix • edited by: dianahardin • updated: 8/10/2010

For the parent of a child who has been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, the thought of trying to manage this disease can be overwhelming. Here are several things that can be done to make this transition easier for you and your child.

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    Juvenile Diabetes

    With the number of diagnosed cases on the rise, many families today are faced with the challenge of how to manage juvenile diabetes. While a controllable condition, the most heartbreaking aspect of determining how to manage juvenile diabetes is in the attempt to quell the fears of a child who has just been diagnosed with a permanent medical condition. Life for a child with diabetes can seem overwhelming with the prospect of giving insulin injections, conducting blood tests, and attempting to control the diet for a lifetime. There are some guidelines to follow which will make the process fall into routine more quickly, allowing everyone to feel comfortable with their adjusted lifestyle.

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    Be Honest With Your Child

    The first step in helping children learn how to manage juvenile diabetes is to let them know that you will always be honest with them. Much of their fear is of the unknown, and the confirmation that you will always tell them everything you know will go a long way in helping them cope with their diagnosis. Of course, the next step is following through on that promise. Don’t sugar coat your explanations of required procedures. Let children know exactly what to expect, and they will feel more secure in dealing with their feelings by knowing there won’t be any surprises.

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    Put the School on Alert

    Be sure to contact your child’s school immediately. Let them know about the diagnosis and any meal or medication requirements that are to be expected. Also, let them know what symptoms to be aware of in your child, and be sure to have current emergency contact information recorded with the school, just in case an emergency does come up.

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    Discuss How Much to Tell Friends

    Have a discussion with your child about how much she wants to tell friends about the diagnosis. This is another good opportunity for one of those “honest” discussions, where you make her aware that she may be unable to take part in certain activities and let her know that her friends will be more accommodating if they know of her condition. Children can be cruel to anyone who is perceived as “different,” but having loyal friends to defend your child, when necessary, can help your child learn how to better manage juvenile diabetes.

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    Making Other Adults Aware

    While learning how to manage your child’s juvenile diabetes, be sure to let the parents of her close friends know about the condition. This will not only insure that your child is being watched for symptoms, while not in your care, but it will also give you an opportunity to talk about your concerns with another adult. Be sure to include in your conversations whether your child has decided to tell friends about the situation or not, and ask the parents to respect these wishes also.

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    Be Hopeful and Optimistic

    Be sure to remember, and to make your child aware, that there have been recent dramatic advances in the treatment of juvenile diabetes. While the condition may be permanent, your child will be relieved to find that there are continual efforts being made to help her learn how to manage juvenile diabetes with less disruption to her way of life.

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    Resources and More Information

    If you need more information or support please visit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. JDRF is dedicated to finding a cure for this disease.