Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease. Helping your child follow his or her diabetes treatment plan takes round-the-clock commitment. But your efforts are worthwhile. Careful management of type 2 diabetes can reduce your child's risk of serious — even life-threatening — complications.
As your child gets older:
- Encourage him or her to take an increasingly active role in diabetes management
- Stress the importance of lifelong diabetes care
- Teach your child how to test his or her blood sugar and inject insulin if needed
- Help your child make wise food choices
- Encourage your child to remain physically active
- Foster a relationship between your child and his or her diabetes treatment team
Above all, stay positive. The habits you teach your child today will help him or her enjoy an active and healthy life with type 2 diabetes.
School and diabetes
You'll need to work with your child's school nurse and teachers to make sure they know the symptoms of high and low blood sugar levels. Federal law protects children with diabetes, and schools must make reasonable accommodations to ensure that all children get a proper education.
Living with type 2 diabetes isn't easy — for you or for your child. Good diabetes management requires a lot of time and effort, especially in the beginning.
Diabetes can affect your child's emotions both directly and indirectly. Poorly controlled blood sugar can cause behavior changes, such as irritability. If you notice that your child or adolescent is persistently sad or pessimistic, or experiences dramatic changes in sleeping habits, friends or school performance, have your child assessed for depression.
Your child may find encouragement and understanding in a type 2 diabetes support group for children. Support groups for parents are also available. Websites that offer support include the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent type 2 diabetes in children and its complications. And if your child already has type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes can reduce the need for medications. Encourage your child to:
- Eat healthy foods. Offer your child foods low in fat and calories. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety to prevent boredom.
- Get more physical activity. Encourage your child to become active. Sign up for a sports team or dance lessons, or look for active things to do together.
Better yet, make it a family affair. The same lifestyle choices that can help prevent type 2 diabetes in children can do the same for adults. The best diet for a child with diabetes is also the best diet for the whole family.