A type 2 diabetes diagnosis is a scary thing—particularly when it’s your child who has the health issue. However, managing your child’s type 2 diabetes disorder takes discipline, scheduling, willing lifestyle changes, help from others, and education to ensure the wellbeing of your child’s future health. Part of keeping your child healthy will be to take an active role in the management of your child’s diabetes.
Here are nine helpful tips for parents with diabetic children…
1. Regular Monitoring of Blood Glucose
Some parents resist checking the blood-sugar levels of their children, because let’s face it, it can hurt! However, the regular monitoring of your child’s blood glucose levels is the fastest way to know if they are under control. Remember, diet, exercise, stress, medication, illness, and excitement can all cause blood sugar to suddenly spiral out of control so regular monitoring is important.
2. Adopt an Active Lifestyle as a Family Unit
Exercise and activity level is vital for managing a condition like diabetes. Not only will regular exercise help prevent weight gain in children with diabetes, it will promote blood-sugar control and improve how your child responds to their medication. To make it easier on your little diabetes patient, aim for 30 minutes of activity every day as a family unit—for instance, go for a walk after dinner, go for a bike ride, or sign up for family swim at your local recreation center.
3. Make Oral Hygiene a Priority
As you probably already know, diabetes creates unregulated levels of glucose in the blood. Well, it also creates increased levels of glucose in your saliva, which leaves your child prone to cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay. So encourage a healthy dental regimen of regular tooth brushing at least twice per day and flossing at least once per day to promote health teeth and gums.
4. Help your Child Take Control of their Condition
One simple way to help your child gain more control over their diabetes is by keeping a food diary. After all, nothing gives them more control and insight into their diet, blood sugar levels, and weight than a record of eating habits, meal times, temptations, moods, and blood sugar spikes and lows. This food diary will help you and your child pinpoint certain patterns, i.e., responses to certain foods, so you can work with your child to make healthier, more informed choices.
5. Build a Support Team
Sure, you can count on your child’s doctor for things like blood-glucose testing and prescriptions. However, a supportive diabetes network for your child takes more than a primary-care physician. For example, call on a dietitian to help you fine-tune your family’s weekly groceries, your child’s teacher as your point of contact during the school day, your child’s best friend to help support them socially, etc.
6. Be Transparent with Others
Be honest when it comes to communicating with the support system that you’ve built around your child and his or her condition. By this we mean, be transparent with teachers, doctors, friends, and other family members when it comes to any issues as far as medication, diet, activity level, and etc., for both you and your child.
7. Establish a Diabetes Medication Schedule
Diabetes symptoms are sneaky, meaning they can come on suddenly and without notice if you forget your child’s medication dosage. Untreated diabetes is dangerous. Your child can end up passing out, becoming more ill, or with nerve damage, or heart disease if the condition is left unmediated. This is why it’s vital to maintain a schedule with your child, and stick to it!
8. Remain Positive
Stay positive about your child’s diabetes. For instance, focus on how well he or she is doing managing their condition vs. focusing on how the condition limits their lives or how many foods they can no longer eat. Instead, tap into your child’s creativity, by whipping up some yummy yet healthy food alternatives and desserts in the kitchen.
9. Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle as a Family
Part of making your child comfortable and communicative about their condition is by not making them feel like they are alone. Help them transition into their new lifestyle as a family unit. For instance, brainstorm health meal ideas as a family, and prepare the meals you dream up together in the kitchen. These health minded changes will benefit everyone—not just your diabetic child.