So, we’ve looked at how to identify diabetes in young children and how to protect your child from diabetes but, what if your child has diabetes? How do you help a diabetic child? In this article, we will discuss 7 ways to help a child with diabetes.
The first study to record the number of infant type 1 diabetics was done in Karnataka in 1992. In the study, they found that 97,000 children were tested with type 1 diabetes. The majority of those children were around 12 years old.
Now, children as young as 2 years can get diabetes in India. Though type 1 diabetes is more common in children, bad lifestyle and hereditary reasons can cause type 2 diabetes in young children as well.
7 Ways To Help A Child With Diabetes?
How do you help children understand what is diabetes and how they should take care of it? Let’s find out
1. One Thing At A Time
Type 1 Diabetes can be overwhelming but with proper care and management, you can keep it under control. Doctors will give you a diet chart, an insulin routine, protocols for hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia and they will teach you how to count calories.
Now if your child is very young we cannot expect them to handle it all on their own. But since it’s their body, they will slowly need to manage their condition. Hence it is important to gradually allow children to take responsibility of their own condition rather than teaching them everything in one night.
Many children with Type 1 diabetes first learn how to check their sugar and count calories so they can make responsible decisions when their parents aren’t around.
2. Teaching Them The Rules Of Calorie Counting
Diabetes does not mean that they can never have sweets ever again. They can have their favourite foods if it’s within control. Though diabetic children must eat healthy food and follow timely meal times, it is important to create a meal plan that includes healthy ingredients that they actually like.
Rather than restricting diabetics, they must be taught to count calories as they grow older so that they can make responsible dietary choices when they are outside.
3. Adding Exercise To The Mix
Children should exercise for at least an hour every day. If your child has recently been diagnosed and they are not very active, this may be a little difficult for them to get used to at first.
But exercise can be fun too; they don’t have to become world-class athletes. But running and playing with friends and having a good time outside for an hour is all they need.
You can encourage your child by enrolling them in an activity they enjoy, like swimming or dancing. They can even join playgroups made especially for diabetic children. This will help them find others who are dealing with the same problems they are facing.
Make friends with other diabetic children also helps them create a strong support system and a sense of responsibility to manage their condition better.
4. Diabetes Does Not Have To Be A Punishment
Another common mistake that we can make is to enforce strict rules for diabetic children and punish them for not following. In these situations, the child may not be completely honest with their diet and get seriously sick.
Instead of punishing them, you must educate them. Why is it important for them to follow their diet chart and what they should do when they have a special treat.
5. Inform Teachers And Other Care-Givers
Children aren’t going to be with you all the time which means that you cannot single-handedly manage their diabetes. Children with diabetes learn to manage their own diabetes at different ages.
Those who have had it as a toddler may learn to manage it by the time they reach middle – higher elementary school while those who get it at 11 or 12 may need some help in their early teens and mid-teens.
As their parents, you must inform teachers and caregivers how to test blood sugar and inject insulin if the child can’t do it on their own.
All teachers and caregivers must know symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia so that they can take immediate action. The child’s friends must know the symptoms as well so that they can inform adults nearby.
Lastly, if there is a diabetic child in the class, teachers should make an exception and allow them to drink water and visit the loo when required.
6. Let Children Be Children
Remember, that children are more than their sickness. It may seem like diabetes controls your life more than anything else, but give it some time. Soon enough, diabetes will just be a part of life – the new normal.
Once diabetic kids learn to manage their diabetes, they usually live a long and fruitful life. Diabetes children don’t take more sick leaves than regular children, and they should be allowed to go to birthday parties, school field trips, picnics just like any other kids.
Adults in the parties and caregivers in field trips must know how to help a diabetic child in case they need any help but for the most part, diabetic children should not bet denied the joys of childhood.
7. Late Teens And Early Adulthood
At this stage, all everything they learned about diabetes is put to test. If a child has had diabetes for a long time, they are likely to have better control of it.
However, this is a very tricky phase in their life. Older teenagers usually start getting into mixed companies and indulge in habits like drinking etc which can be difficult for diabetics to handle in high amounts.
Moderation is key for diabetics but late teens are all about learning new things and doing things in excessive amounts – binge eating, binge-watching shows (living a sedentary lifestyle), late-night parties, drinking, smoking, all of which diabetics cannot do.
Teenagers are also more hormonal and are less likely to pay attention to their health. This is why it is important that they get a strong healthy foundation with their condition from an early age so that they can better manage themselves even during the difficult years of adolescence.
At the end of the day, the baby bird must leave the nest and as parents, you must make sure they have a strong head over their shoulders. The strength to say no and the ability to enjoy certain foods in moderation and maintaining and routine is what is going to help them live long and steady lives.