When a child is diagnosed with diabetes, the parents’ natural response is to imagine the worse scenarios–insulin shots, limitations, and long term complications. It is ok to briefly consider those possible realities as long as you the parent and coach don’t dwell in that valley. Imagine for a minute that you are coaching a youth baseball team, and you began your season with the focus, “Well, we can possibly lose all of our games this season and be plagued with injuries, making us the worst team in the league”. It probably wouldn’t encourage the team to do their best now would it? It is the same with parenting a child with diabetes.

The Reality

Life with diabetes is complicated. And the reality is that children with Type 1 and many with Type 2 diabetes have to take insulin, whether they are Pumpers or Shooters (via insulin pump or insulin injections). They also have to monitor their blood glucose and remain in touch with changes in their body.

The Outlook

A child who believes that diabetes management is not an obstacle, but a step necessary for success will flourish. One of the most important things that my parents provided for me is a positive outlook about my diabetes. In all that we did, they reinforced the fact that I could do anything that I wanted to do as long as I was willing to do the work.

The Plan

Successful diabetes management is not something that can be done haphazardly. It requires organization and consistency. Medication, diet and exercise should be planned in concert with the objective to maintain blood sugars within (or as close to) the normal range of 70-120.

 

The Tools

With any task, it is easy to adhere to the plan with the right tools in the right place. What that means for a child with diabetes is that the plan has to include where meals will come from (ie: packing a snack or lunch to eat at the prescribed time), carrying a glucose monitor to check levels throughout the day (and understanding school rules), having insulin handy and stored properly (not in a car that may be too hot or too cold and may denature the insulin. Regularly scheduled exercise and an emergency plan developed with your child and school officials.

The Benefit of Diabetes

Yes, after all of that work, there are benefits! For the novice, all of this seems like a whole lot of work—and it is. It is a mindset, and equipping a plan to manage diabetes. While it may seem like a lot, particularly for a young child, it prepares them for more of the same in life. The road to successful academic achievement is a mindset (GPA 3.5) and a well equipped plan (study between classes at the library and redo all homework prior to tests). The road to a successful career is a mindset (make partner within 5 years) and a well equipped plan (keep schedule on iPad and always be well prepared for presentations).

Said another way, diabetes can provide practice for success in life.

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