The Best Way to Teach Kids About Diabetes

1 in 400 children and adolescents have diabetes

The American Diabetes Association reports that 1 out of 400 children and adolescents have diabetes. They also report that 8.3% of the population has this disease, so if a child isn't diabetic himself or herself, the child probably has a cousin or friend who is diabetic. Diabetes information is important for the child to know, and the disease should be explained at a level of the child's understanding. If your child is among the 5% of children with this disease, you will need to teach them as much as they are capable of understanding about the disease at their age.

Meet with a nutritionist or nurse educator if your child is diagnosed with diabetes

Type 1 diabetes affects children whose systems do not produce insulin. They must have insulin therapy to survive, and with it, they can live long, healthy lives. Young children need maximum assistance and support from their parents, but as they get older, children need to learn to be responsible for the food choices that they make and for making sure that their insulin therapy happens as scheduled. A nutritionist or nurse educator is helpful in explaining diabetes meal plans and facts about which foods are safe for your child to eat.

Connecting with support groups can help your child understand diabetes

Many young children do not understand why they need insulin therapy while their brother or sister does not. Families often have all of their children restrict carbohydrates, not just the child with diabetes. It is often easier to keep cookies and other sugary treats out of the house rather than risking that the diabetic child eats them. Each family handles diabetes in their child in their own unique way. The American Diabetes Association recommends that children attend diabetes summer camp. This experience helps kids realize that they are not the only one with diabetes. It is very therapeutic for children to be around other kids who understand what they are going through in their life.

Explain dietary rules to your child when he is old enough to go to school

A diabetic child's teacher and principal should be notified that the child is diabetic. A written care plan should be written up with the school nurse, and all school personnel who work at the school should be aware of this plan. It is the school's job to oversee snacks brought into the classroom and to guard your diabetic child from food that could be harmful. The American Diabetes Association recommends that a written accommodations and care plan that is developed under the federal disability law is the best way to ensure that your child is safe at school.

Teach your child to be responsible for himself

Your son or daughter should also be taught through a simple explanation of how certain foods could cause them to become very sick. Some parents role play with their toddler to practice the child's response if someone tries to give her a cookie or brownie or other forbidden food. As children become school age and are able to read, they can learn about their disease by logging onto Planet D at the American Diabetes Association. This website is designed to educate diabetic children about their disease on a level that is interesting and fun for them.

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