Discovering that your child has type 1 or type 2 diabetes can stir up many emotions like fear, guilt, anger, or anxiety. You may worry whether you'll be able to cope with the level of care your child will need every day.
It's important to know that you and your family are not alone. Many services are available to help you and your child learn about diabetes and what you, and others who care for your child, need to do to manage the condition.
When children are young, parents need to be very involved in learning about the condition, participating in the routines and sharing management decisions. As children get older, they'll learn how to care for themselves, but parents still play an important role in the diabetes care team.
The more you learn, the more comfortable you'll feel as a parent (or caregiver). Your knowledge and confidence will help your child feel more secure, too.
Accepting a diagnosis
It's important to accept your child’s diagnosis without guilt. While no one really knows what causes type 1 diabetes, we do know it's not caused by eating too much sugar and there is nothing you could have done to prevent the condition, even if you had taken your child to see the doctor sooner.
Take your child to see their diabetes health-care professional on a regular basis to discuss your child’s growth, development and diabetes management.
Ask for a referral to a local pediatric diabetes team. You and your child will benefit tremendously from the insights and experience of a nurse, dietitian, social worker and physician with expertise in childhood diabetes.
Find support for yourself. The responsibility of caring for a child with diabetes can make your job as a parent or caregiver even more stressful. Share your emotions and concerns with someone who understands, such as another parent of a child with diabetes or your healthcare professional.
Communication is key
Make family communication a priority. Your child’s diagnosis affects everyone in the family, but not everyone will respond in the same way. Talking to each other about these feelings—whether fear, sadness, anger, even jealousy—will help your family come to terms with your new life with diabetes.
Remember to take time for family fun, too! While diabetes is now part of your life, it's not your—or your child’s—entire life.
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