What not to say to your children who have diabetes…

The Advice

“Do not punish them for anything relating to their diabetes. It makes it seem even more unfair. I used to get punished for sneaking sweets, forgetting my diabetic paraphernalia when going on a trip, or forgetting my snack at school or to take a shot at home. It just made it so much harder.”

[During a low blood sugar when caught without any sugar on hand]

“… Dad was angry at me, getting revved up and going on about how I need to look after myself, and either do everything right, or not worry at all. I got mad back – I’m doing the best I can and accidents/mistakes do happen. Nobody can be perfect all the time, if any of the time, and I don’t need anyone telling me I should never get caught out.

So there’s my gripe – be aware that accidents do happen, and give them a break when it happens.”

There is no such thing as a perfect diabetic. How many “perfect” diabetics have had days of unexplainable high or low blood sugars? Millions. The body is too complex to explain at times. We’ve all had our days when we have an unexplained low and are caught off guard without having sugar. We’ve also all had days where we misplace or leave behind our cell phone, briefcase, favorite hat or purse. It is no different when a child simply forgets one day to take dex tabs or their meter to school. How many times have they remembered to take it?

Habitual problems are another story. The important thing is to make sure the consequences of poor diabetes choices fits the “crime” and educate the child on the correct choice. Example: when one list member�s daughter first started pumping, she missed a bolus every now and then – then after a couple of months got very complacent about doing boluses at all. So her “consequence” was that for a week, she couldn’t eat snacks unless her parents “heard the beeps” – a real hassle for a kid tasting her freedom. After the consequence, she was then on her own again. It took 2 weeks (separated by a couple of weeks) before the message was truly learned, and since then, her mom doesn�t think she’s ever forgotten a bolus. Yelling, or hitting, doesn’t teach a lesson.

“My father has not talked to me in over 7yrs because I have diabetes and one night when I was asleep on his couch I had a pretty bad reaction. Well I ended up cussing him and slinging my arms…”

“… my father seems to think that I couldn’t be part of him because I am not perfect and my brother and sister are – at least they don’t have a disease.”

Diabetics cannot always be held accountable for their actions when having a low blood sugar. Harsh words can sting, and although it is difficult, you must remember that diabetics are not in a sound mental state when they are low. They may say or do things and have no recollection hours later. Black eyes from flailing arms are sometimes easier to forgive than words said – just try to remember though that the same mental state that caused your loved one to sock you is the same mental state that brought the harsh words. Neither would happen if the diabetic were in normal range.

As for the second part of that… diabetes is not your fault, diabetes is not your child’s fault, diabetes is not a sign of imperfection… if you are uncomfortable with your child’s illness (I’ve seen this a lot in two parent families where one parent carries more of the “load” in diabetes care), try to learn more about it. If you are that parent who carries more of the load, bring your spouse into the picture. Make it a part of her/his daily life to understand what diabetes is and how it affects you and your child’s life… Please don’t alienate your children over something they have no control over.

“My mom told me flat out when I was 12 that if I was going to have treats that I should learn how to compensate for them. That surprised me because I thought I was in for it when she caught me with that Snickers bar. :)”

Above all, this is one of the most important things to teach your child. In simple terms, teach them food = insulin. And that if they ever are hungry or are craving sweets, please just let mom or dad know and we’ll see what we can do, but never never sneak food without letting someone know.

” Are you low?”

There is no solution to this one. Akin to when women are told “You must be PMS-ing,” when they are upset, this comment can only further enrage a diabetic when they are not low. Simply put though, you cannot stop asking it because 75% of the time you will be right! Just be forewarned that diabetics sometimes are a little over-sensitive to this question � and that they CAN be mad WITHOUT being low!

” Did you take your insulin?” or “How much did you take?” or “Did you take enough?” and “What is your blood sugar”



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