Parents go through a wide range of emotions when their children have a chronic condition and these feelings often come in waves, e.g. denial, anger, frustration, sadness, guilt, fear and depressed mood. How parents learn to cope with their own emotions and their own needs will determine how they can best support their child. To care for your child you must first care for yourself!
Some self-care tips
- Continue to do things that you loved prior to diabetes diagnosis
- Educate others in your family about diabetes management so you can have a break!
- Talk to family and friends regularly
- Adult colouring, yoga, deep breathing, gym, music, reading etc can assist parental wellbeing
Diabetes and parenting
As if parenting wasn’t hard enough! When your child has diabetes parenting can be even more difficult and require more planning, routine and involvement in your child’s life. Children and young people can often rebel against this and it is important to have all carers on the same page to support the child and for them to feel safe. Parental anxiety is often transferred to the young person so it is important that you have a space to talk away from your child as not every conversation is developmentally appropriate for a child to hear.
Your child is still the young person they were before their diagnosis and can achieve goals, play sports, get a job etc. It is important that there are times at home and while out and about that there is no (or limited) ‘Diabetes talk’. Diabetes does not define who they are and this is important to remember. For instance, it is not helpful to say to your child when they first arrive home from school “what is your BGL?”A better question might be ‘how was your day at school?”
Triple P Online program - a program for parents of toddlers to 12-year-olds - providing tips and strategies to positively influence your child’s development, emotional regulation, and wellbeing
Family Therapy and Diabetes
We understand that Diabetes management can be a bit tough at times for young people and their families, where the day-to-day stresses can lead to disagreements or arguments, whether it's to do with taking insulin, blood glucose checks or diet. This may create difficulties in continuing to encourage your child with these things, perhaps feeling like you're not getting any where or the young person feeling like they want to avoid it all together.
The Diabetes Social Work team are currently providing family work sessions for young people with Diabetes and their families, who are experiencing such tension/conflict which is impacting their Diabetes management. Family work sessions could include:
- Working on communication between family members.
- Being able to negotiate on responsibilities/tasks.
- Understanding each other's perspectives; whether recognising their needs, being able to express difficulties safely and building on strengths.
If you are interested, please click for more information or speak with your DNE or doctor. You can also contact the RCH Diabetes office on 9345 6661 or email@example.com and a Social Worker will get back to you.
Siblings often worry a lot and should be spoken to about the diagnosis of diabetes and what the treatment entails in basic age-appropriate language, so they are prepared and understand as much as possible.
Siblings of children with diabetes often feel that they get less attention, care and support than their sibling with diabetes. Where possible try and find time to spend with siblings away from ‘diabetes’!! Young children may like to help so give them a task e.g. “can you get a tissue for your sister?” or “can you get the iPad for them?”
Online resources for siblings
Jumo Health is an initiative set up by doctors to explain medical information to children and have developed a comic book discussing what type 1 diabetes is.
Siblings Australia provide support for siblings of children living with a chronic health condition.
Livewire is a free online community connecting teens living with illness/disability and their siblings.