Adults have a hard enough time managing diabetes.
Diabetes is a difficult diagnosis to receive in adulthood, let alone during the overwhelming, fast-paced, and often volatile ins and outs of childhood. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are on the rise in children, however, making it an absolute necessity to get the conversation going regarding the disease, and help children take ownership of their condition.
5 Ways to Get Children Involved
#1. Model Behavior and Communication
First and foremost, model the behavior you wish to impart to your child. Practice healthy sleep habits, and encourage your child to do the same. Eat well on a regular basis, and expect the same of your child. Children often rise to meet expectations, so don’t be afraid to set standards of health and self-care high.
#2. Create Meal Plans Together
Diabetic meal plans can be particularly challenging for children—especially if they see siblings or friends eating an array of unhealthy foods. Get your kids involved by planning weekly meals together, allowing them to take some creative control of their health, meals, and environment.
#3. Engage in Family Exercise
Sitting on the couch and telling your child to be serious about physical activity is not going to work. Instead, take turns choosing a family activity. For some children, tennis will be an ideal form of exercise, while others might choose long hikes through a local park. Regardless of the exact type of exercise, make sure your child has some say in the activities you do together.
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#4. Visit Local Seminars Together
Diabetes research is a vast and ongoing field, and many cities have lectures and research presentations regarding diabetes. Offer to attend these lectures or any workshops you find with your child to encourage learning about themselves and their condition, as well as networking and communicating with others in a similar situation.
#5. Encourage Communication Between Children and Their Doctor
As parents, it can be tempting to speak on behalf of your children, or do the most legwork with regard to doctor’s visits, medication, and complications. Rather than taking the burden of responsibility, however, encourage your children to develop a rapport with their physician, including open communication.
Having a chronic illness can be alienating for a child, so creating a safe atmosphere at home and encouraging education and independence is vital to help children with diabetes feel that they have some control over their lives. Getting children involved in their own care does not have to be dramatic, over-the-top, or exhaustive; instead, act as a source of support and encouragement and do the same work you expect of your diabetic child.
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