Helping kids cope

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Dealing with diabetes can be stressful for everyone in a family, but it is especially hard on kids. And teens affected by diabetes have their own concerns.

Diabetes can interfere with your child’s school activities and social life, and can lower self-esteem. The stress of a chronic disease can interfere with keeping diabetes under control. It’s important to understand the signs of stress and anxiety in children and their effect on your child’s health. Misbehavior, mood swings, or changes in sleep or eating may actually be signs of stress. 

If your child seems stressed, ask how he or she is feeling. Let him or her know it’s normal to feel angry, sad, or frustrated. Then you can begin working together on ways to feel better and learn to overcome some of the challenges of managing diabetes at school.

How you can help

  • Make time every day to be with your child, if you can. Your child may want to talk or just be near you, and that can help him or her cope.
  • Talk with your child about how he or she is feeling.
  • Let your child know that talking to a teacher, school counselor, or friend may help, too.
  • Help your child learn about camps and support groups for children with diabetes.
  • Getting a good night’s sleep and eating healthy meals also can help your child cope with stress.
  • If you feel that your child is not coping well, talk with your child’s doctor.

Be sure to take care of you

Helping a child with diabetes can be a rewarding experience, especially when you know that your care has a positive effect. However, caregiving can also be difficult, and you may feel stress and anxiety. Ask your child’s doctor about tips for parenting a child with diabetes. Staying positive, doing things you enjoy, and relying on friends and family for support are all good ideas.

Reviewed by: Joshua May, MD, February 2019

© 2019 Kaiser Permanente

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