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Managing Type 1 Diabetes in Your Child: Getting Started

Finding out that your child has diabetes can be scary. All the things you need to know may seem overwhelming. But you don’t have to learn it all right away. You and your child can learn together.

Diabetes is a condition that happens when the pancreas can no longer make insulin. The body needs insulin to turn sugar (glucose) from food into energy. If the body doesn’t have insulin, the level of sugar in the blood can get too high. Over time, high amounts of blood sugar can harm the body. Diabetes is a lifelong (chronic) disease. There is no cure. But there is treatment to help control it. So your child can lead a full, healthy life.

Building a team

In managing diabetes, you and your child will get the support of a healthcare team. They will help you and your child learn to control your child’s blood sugar. Special healthcare providers in your child’s diabetes care team may include:

  • Endocrinologist. This is a healthcare provider who treats people with diabetes.

  • Diabetes educator

  • Dietitian

  • Occupational therapist

  • Health psychologist or social worker

  • Dentist

  • Eye care provider

  • Exercise trainer

  • School nurse

  • Pharmacist

  • Podiatrist

Controlling type 1 diabetes

To help control your child's type 1 diabetes, follow these tips. These can help your child’s body keep healthy blood sugar levels.

  • Monitoring. Your child's healthcare team will work with you. They will help you set a blood sugar target range for your child. You will also learn how to check blood sugar level. This helps you watch if your child’s blood sugar is in a healthy range.

  • Insulin. The healthcare provider will give you a prescription for insulin for your child. You will be shown how and when to give the insulin to your child.

  • Eating. A dietitian will help you create a meal plan. You will learn which foods are best for your child, how much your child should eat, and how often your child should eat.

  • Activity. Daily exercise can help lower your child’s blood sugar level. Ask the provider about how to keep your child active. Work with a diabetes educator or exercise specialist. They can help you decide on the best activity or exercises for your child.

Learning to cope

Living with diabetes is a lifelong challenge. The more you learn, the more you’ll be able to help your child build skills. But dealing with the details of managing diabetes is just 1 piece of the puzzle. You’ll also be coping with your child’s emotions. And with your own.

  • Dealing with grief. It isn’t your fault that your child has diabetes. And it's not your child’s fault. But you and your child may feel angry or guilty. You may also feel scared or sad. Or you both may want to deny what’s happening. These feelings are normal. They’re part of grieving for the losses that come with a chronic health condition. These feelings may come and go. But if you face them, they won’t take over your life.

  • Staying positive. Diabetes is a serious condition. But people with diabetes can have long, healthy, active lives. Your child doesn't need to stop playing sports or doing well in school. He or she can still have a family someday. Believe that your child can live well with diabetes. You’ll help your child believe it, too.

Resources

These groups provide information, educational programs, and other services. They are there to help you.

  • American Association of Diabetes Educators

    www.aadenet.org

  • American Diabetes Association

    800-342-2383

    www.diabetes.org

  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International

    800-533-2873

    www.jdrf.org

  • National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse

    800-860-8747

    www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov

  • Endocrine Society

    888-363-6274

    www.endocrine.org/topics/diabetes

  • American Dietetic Association

    www.eatright.org

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2019
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