Finding out that your child needs insulin injections can be shocking and terrifying. It is easy to go into panic mode and think about all the worst case scenarios, but it is important to stay calm, especially in front of your child. Children take their cues from the adults around them, and if your child sees you panicking about his illness he will likely panic too. Acknowledge that this is scary for him, and that things are going to change, but let him know with your voice and your actions that it will be okay and that you will be there to help him every step of the way.
Once you have a diabetes diagnosis for your child you will want to sit down and talk to him and help him understand what is going on. Nurses and doctors may explain certain things to him at his appointment or at the hospital, but he will likely be overwhelmed by everything that is going on and will need to have things explained again. There are a few important things to remember when having this conversation, but above all else show your child that you love and support him.
Focus on the Positives
Don’t start out with a list of things your child is not allowed to do or eat. Let him know that there will be changes, but that he will still be able to play with his friends and participate in the activities he loves. Talking to your child about his illness in a positive and encouraging way will reassure him it is not the end of his world as he knows it. Remind him that he is not alone, that there are many other children with diabetes, and that his family and friends will be there to support him.
Talk about Diabetes Medications
Talking about diabetes medications and insulin for diabetics can be difficult, especially with younger children. While it is tempting to just tell your child to take it “because it will make him better”, or “because the doctor says so”, it is important that your child knows why he is taking the medication. Keep the explanations of the diabetes medications simple, so that he is not overwhelmed or confused; he does not need to know the complex science, only what the drugs do to keep him healthy and why they are so important. If he understands the changes he is making in his life he will be able to make decisions on his own when you are not there.
You or another adult will need to give you child his insulin injections until he is old enough to do it himself. Remain firm, calm and matter of fact when giving insulin injections. Long acting insulin has a different pH than types of insulin, and some children complain that long acting insulin shots “sting” if given too quickly. Some parents use an ice cube to numb the injection site. Many prefer using the smaller, more convenient insulin pens over insulin syringes.