Some guidelines

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 All children are different – what works for one child may not work for another.
  • At this age your child will usually have the skills to physically do the task but not the maturity and knowledge to take on full responsibility. Taking on some of this responsibility requires that your child learns more about diabetes.
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 Group sessions with children of a similar age may help. Check what is available through your diabetes team.
  • There is no special age when your child should give their own injections. Health professionals agree that by age 11-13 years, most children can perform most diabetes related tasks but this varies from child to child. As a guide, a child of 10 may be giving the injection and at 11 they may be drawing up the insulin. If your child refuses to give their own insulin – reduce the steps to one at a time, encouraging your child to join in at each point, but allowing them to “opt out”.

The steps could be:
  1. Check the dosage
  2. Draw up the insulin
  3. Select the injection site 
4. Inject the insulin

  • These steps may need to be introduced a few days apart and should be done when you have time to spare and you’re not too rushed – at weekends for example.
  • Sharing tasks between both parents and the child is useful – for example Mum a.m., Dad p.m., child at weekends. Often children will be keen to help.
  • Concentrate on your child learning one task at a time, otherwise demands are too great and your child will be confused and unwilling to stick at it.
  • Your child’s skills may not be as good as your own, so patience is needed to increase their confidence. This is another reason for choosing a less rushed time of the day.
  • Encourage involvement when your child shows an interest in learning new tasks.
  • It’s still important to observe your child’s ability and technique to avoid possible mistakes and short cuts. Try to be positive and focus on the things they do well.
  • Make it clear to your child that you will slowly introduce responsibility, and that you realise they may sometimes need a break. Let them know that you will help them with diabetes tasks for short periods of time.
  • It’s very easy for you as a parent to carry on doing everything for your child whether they have diabetes or not, but it is vital for your child’s self esteem and confidence, and your sanity (!), that you encourage the beginnings of self-care.
  • You can never be sure that your child knows their hypo symptoms. It is a good idea to draw attention to symptoms straight after a hypo occurs so that your child can talk them over with you. This will help them to remember how they feel and the warning signs of a hypo.
  • Your child will need the help of their peers and may need a guiding hand to deal with classmates and friends. Some children do not want anyone outside the family to know that they have diabetes. It may be helpful for your child to tell their best friend what to do if a hypo occurs.
  • Your child might do a school project on diabetes to tell their classmates how it is to have diabetes – for example, they could show how they use their meter. This may increase confidence through teaching their friends.
  • School events may motivate your child to help in self care – for example, learning to correctly treat hypos so that they may attend sports events or school excursions.
  • Your child may be keen to sleep-over at a friend or relative’s house which may provide a gentle push to take on responsibility for diabetes related tasks – seize every opportunity you can.