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Family Strategies for Raising a Healthy Child with Diabetes

Each and every day more kids are diagnosed with diabetes. It seems that the incidence of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is growing at alarming rates. Laura Plunkett., BA Psychology, has made our jobs easier by writing The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes: Family Strategies for Raising a Healthy Child and this week she shares a one page overview to help parents cope.

As the parent of a newly diagnosed child with diabetes, you will have to make many adjustments within your family. When my son Danny was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age seven, I realized that I needed to find ways to help everyone in our family work together and feel included as we regained our equilibrium. Here are some strategies to consider as you move ahead.

●          Include your children in any decisions or life changes your family makes. Explaining “why” and seriously listening to objections makes it easier to solicit their cooperation.

●          Do your best to convince your child with diabetes that both of you are on the same side in confronting this disease. Stress the idea that you are teammates with the same goals.

●          Ask for your children’s help in working out strategies for coping. Ask for suggestions.

●          Talk about any change before you implement it. Allow time for children to get used to new ideas. Familiarity and information often ease a child’s resistance.

●          Try timed trials. For example, “Let’s do this for two weeks and then we’ll reconsider it.” If something doesn’t work, ask, “What else could we do to achieve the same results?”

●          Children are often responsive to the explanations of experts. Ask a nutritionist, visiting nurse, or someone with diabetes to talk with your child about issues in contention between you.

●          Siblings have a right to their own ambivalent feelings. As long as they treat their siblings with respect, their complaints can be met with a sympathetic, “I know. It’s hard.”

●          Draw the line between honesty, which you appreciate, and hurtful insults, which should be out-of-bounds within any family.

●          Make an effort to find your child’s siblings a place where they can shine. Aim for small classes, dedicated adults, or a caring community of faith.

●          Accept that you may have a low energy level, be disorganized, or become flustered in emergencies. Gratefully allow others to make up for your limitations without reproaching yourself. The best possible distribution of tasks is to have everyone in your circle of support playing to his or her strengths.

These family strategies are excerpted from The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes: Family Strategies for Raising a Healthy Child by Laura Plunkett and Linda Weltner. For additional strategies and more information go to www.challengeofdiabetes.com.