Are you a mother or father of one or more children? Then you’ve come to the right place and learn how best to explain the diagnosis of diabetes to your children. Your offspring will have questions. You are probably worried about the feelings of the little one(s). We want to shed light on both sides in this article. You need to tell your child that you have been diagnosed in case one. In parallel, we will highlight the case where your child has diabetes.
In both cases, you must not hide it from your offspring. Because your children have the right to know, you will be amazed at how creative (open and curious) your children will be.
The question now is how to explain the disease to your child appropriately and helpfully. Here are some tips to help you build an age-appropriate conversation. There is no right or wrong; honesty/openness is “the order of the day”.
We have included some pictures and graphics to help you with your conversation.
What should your child know about diabetes?
Give your child the basic knowledge about diabetes. Explain what diabetes is and that there are different types. Explain to him what kind of diabetes is diagnosed, what symptoms can occur, what causes it, and how it is treated. The more your child knows about the disease, the more he will cooperate because children are curious.
This knowledge about diabetes forms the basis. To better prepare for the topic and possible questions, you can also refer to the article “Diabetes Mellitus- what is it actually?”.
- Diabetes is a long-term health problem that affects the body’s energy-producing system. As a result, the body cannot use sugar for energy, and sugar in the blood increases.
- The food that enters the blood from the digestive tract is in the form of sugar.
- The pancreas secretes an insulin hormone that allows the body’s cells to use this glucose. In diabetics, the pancreas either does not make enough insulin, or the body shows resistance to the insulin.
- Your child may be worried about the cause of the disease. You should point out to your child that the exact reason for the condition is unknown but that some critical factors such as genetics, environment, lifestyle, etc., are considered crucial.
You should educate your child about the manifestations of the disease so that they do not become alarmed if any of the symptoms appear in themselves or you. Perhaps this picture will help you explain:
Symptoms of diabetes are
- Frequent thirst due to fluid loss
- Increased urination
- Weight loss due to lipolysis
- Blurred vision
- Darkened skin areas
- Extreme hunger
- Fruity smelling breath
If you or your child has type I diabetes, inform your child that the disease is not curable, but it can be treated well. So there is no need to worry.
Tell them that regular exercise and healthy eating are essential. Foods containing many carbohydrates must be avoided because they cause blood sugar spikes and diabetic complications. Explain to your child the interaction between nutrition and blood sugar levels. The following food examples can successfully reduce the symptoms of diabetes.
Some foods in this picture are to be avoided if you have diabetes.
- grains (e.g., wheat) such as white bread, rice, and pasta
- Yogurt with a sweet taste
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn
- Dried fruits
- Sugary foods and drinks such as sweets or desserts
The following foods, on the other hand, are beneficial:
- Whole Grains
- Lean proteins
Toddlers love to play dominoes or memory games. Make one of your own with all the healthy green foods.
Children are also enthusiastic about cooking at a confident age, so we invite you to try one or more of our recipes.
No matter what type of diabetes you or your child has, blood glucose measurements are necessary to control the glucose concentration in the body. Be sure to involve your child and make a game out of it. Let the doctor show you how to do the blood glucose measurement correctly and show it to your child. Experience shows that curiosity wins out, and the supposedly small ones are pretty big. Your child may even want to help you or even do it himself.
How should a diabetes conversation with children work?
Preparation is half the battle; we have already laid the necessary foundations for the interview. Now it’s time to prepare for the conversation. Create a comfortable atmosphere for you and the child. Provide something to drink, put on some relaxing music and have a pad and pens ready. Questions are sure to come up and so you can use pictures to explain your answers. If your child is affected by diabetes, take the opportunity to start a diary for them. Visual aids are hugely important no matter what age.
Try to conduct the conversation in an age-appropriate manner. The child must be in a position where he can easily understand the situation. You should talk about the disease as much as your child can digest. You know your child best and can sense when they can no longer follow you. If it becomes too much for children, they look for “excuses” such as: “Mummy, I’d rather play now” or “I’m going to meet some friends,” etc… Then interrupt the conversation, and give your child time to process the information. There will be enough situations in the future to bring up the subject again. Perhaps your child will take the next step and approach them curiously with lots of questions.
Here are a few examples to help you prepare:
You have told your child that you have diabetes:
- Mommy/daddy, are you gonna die?
- You can’t eat that, can you?
- Can’t you ever eat candy again? No sweets? No cake? etc…
- What kind of pills are these? Why?
- What’s in the syringe? May I?
- What is this device?
- Why does your body do that?
- Why do you drink so much?
After you tell your child that he has diabetes:
- Why am I so tired?
- Am I gonna die?
- Can I eat this? (this question comes very often)
- Why do I have to pee so often?
- I see everything blurry; will I soon see nothing at all? Will I go blind?
Always start the conversation with a positive message and some positive words. The use of positive comments will help your child understand and bear the (unpleasant diagnosis) bad news. The choice of words must be simple and appropriate for your child’s age. The first sentence you say to your child should be something like, “Everything is fine, and there is nothing to worry about. ” “We can do this together.”
Try not to get/act emotional or sad as this can hurt your child’s psyche. Also, tell your child that the disease is manageable and that you will do everything to keep yourself healthy or support your offspring.
Always remember negative feelings transfer to their children.
Stay positive, make the not pleasant diagnosis something positive and not something terrible.
Essential for you as parents repeatedly talk with your partner, friends, and relatives; this helps you process the whole “thing,” and you are again in a positive mood for your child.
There is no logical reason to ignore your child’s questions. Answer every question your child asks “correctly” and sincerely, do not embellish or dramatize anything.
Always tell the truth.
Talk to your child clearly about every aspect of the disease. First, try to hear the information about diabetes from your child’s mouth. Correct any misinformation your child has. For example, clarify their idea if your child thinks that sugar can be eaten. This will help your child understand the disease better.
Educating your child about diabetes has the following benefits;
- If the disease progresses and severe side effects occur, it is easier for you to explain the situation to your child.
- If your child knows about the disease and its complications, he can cope with the problems by taking the proper steps.
- If your child knows about the disease, he can understand the ups and downs of emotions. Sometimes the signs of the disease make you sad and anxious. In this situation, your child can work with you.
But sometimes, the bad news hits your children like a thunderbolt. It becomes challenging for them to accept the situation because you are worried about your health. However, often, the children usually behave after being initially concerned when the news is first announced. They then accept the situation and adjust accordingly.