Your child is growing and developing every day, and with each new day comes new experiences and needs.
At this age your child will have no understanding of diabetes but it is possible to gradually introduce simple tasks into the everyday routine.
For example, at 18 months to 2 years of age, your child may be encouraged to hold their finger out for finger pricks or help to choose an injection site.
Make sure you give lots of hugs and kisses after any diabetes related procedure.
From 18 months on wards, play becomes an important coping mechanism and games such as allowing your child to give pretend injections to a doll or soft toy (break the needle off to avoid accidents), gives your toddler a chance to take part in their diabetes routine. It can help lay some groundwork for their involvement in diabetes-related tasks.
It is difficult for your child to understand what has happened and that an injection helps them to stay healthy. They may see the injections as a punishment. You may be able to simply explain to your child that diabetes just happened – “Johnny got asthma, it’s nobody’s fault, you didn’t catch it”.
Your toddler is developing a will of their own so they may resist finger pricks and injections. Again you may explain – “Injections are medicine, so you don’t have to go back to hospital”.
Painful procedures are frightening to toddlers and pre-schoolers so these should be performed quickly and treated as routine. Prolonging the agony only makes things worse for you and your child.
Your child may gradually be taught about hypo symptoms. From about four years old, you can draw their attention to the way they are feeling during a hypo, so that they begin to recognise their symptoms and ask for help.
You may gradually encourage your child to learn about food choices… but they will not have developed a concept of time at this age so they will not be able to connect times with insulin and food.
As your child approaches four or five years and asks “Why?” try to make your answer concise and encourage small tasks, one at a time, to fit in with your answers. For example, they may choose which finger to be pricked or a site for their injection. (If you do this remember not to give in to the same spot being used all the time).