What can be more heart-tugging than to stop your little one from having a big chunk of her birthday cake? How hard is it to pull her away from a playground when she is having a great time? The mother of a diabetic child has no other option but to be firm in such matters.
Diabetes, primarily of Type1, can strike early in childhood. Although
it is hard to pin down the cause, many parents blame themselves.
Parents need to come out of their guilt traps to help their child lead
a normal life.
Life of a Diabetic child
In Type 1 diabetes the pancreas cannot produce insulin. This leads to fluctuations in blood glucose levels,
which affects a child's mental and physical abilities, and puts a lot
of limitations on his daily activities.
Extreme fluctuations can be even fatal in some cases. Regulated timely
diets and fixed exercise regimens along with insulin shots are the only
way to normalize the life of a diabetic child.
Diabetes brings Emotional Turmoil
Diabetes has a strong emotional impact. To harmonize your child's life,
it is important that parents understand a child's feelings:
Depression: Diabetes can often seem like an everyday, endless
battle. It brings about feelings of hopelessness, and a dislike for
routines and diets.
Loneliness: As a child grows up, peer acceptance acquires greater importance. A child with diabetes
feels isolated from his peer group. A child may also go into denial to
blend with the group, but ignoring the problem can be detrimental to
Anger: Strict monitoring of daily activities often leads to
frustration, resentment and anger. Your child will not be able to
understand why he cannot have an icecream when he wants, like his
Anxiety: Diabetes aggravates childhood anxieties. A fear of the
needle can interfere in his diabetes management program. It might also
make your child more dependent on you. Any separation from you, even
for a few hours, can cause panic attacks.
Raising a Diabetic Child
You cannot manage your child's disorder without his support. The best way to do this is by dealing with his emotions.
Get all the information: Read books, go to online forums about parents of diabetic
children. Arm yourself with all that you need to know about diabetes.
This is going to be your best defense against the disorder.
Understand your child's feelings: Try to communicate with your
child. If he is old enough, let your child know that by ignoring or
fearing diabetes, he is creating problems for himself. Tell him how he
can lead a normal lifewith diabetes. Give him examples of popular youth icons that have diabetes, like Gaurav, the VJ.
Encourage independence: Show your child how he can check his
glucose levels. This way, he will be able to tell when his levels
falls, so he can return home accordingly on his own, without you having
to baby sit him all the time.
Take it slow: Don't let diabetes disrupt the life your child is used to. If Sundays is meant for ice cream treats go for smaller scoop or diabetic ice cream.
Build a positive self-image: Your child is a person first and diabetic
later. Draw out his strengths and talents. If asked for an
introduction, he should be able to say, "Hi, I am Varun and I am a good
singer," instead of saying, "Hi, I am Varun and I am adiabetic."
Help with friendships: A good circle of friends circle can draw your little one out from his loneliness. Encourage him to invite friends over, and to spend time with them.
Build a school-care plan: Let school time be a time away from
home. Tell your child's teachers about his need for limited exercise,
timely diet, frequent toilet breaks anddiabetic emergencies. Initially,
you might have to go to the school to set the routine. But it is
important you withdraw from the scene as soon as your job is done.
Dealing with diabetes can be highly stressful for parents
too. Take some time out for yourself. A relaxed and emotionally strong
parent will raise a happy and strong child. A normal lifestyle, for the
child and the family, holds the key to livingwith diabetes.
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- The Indiaparenting Team