Expert-reviewed by Ashwini S.Kanade, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with 17 years of experience.
Diabetes is easily manageable as a condition. But what about when young children observe you on a daily basis and ask questions? They may be confused as to why you behave in a certain way, avoid certain foods, use a glucometer or self-administer insulin. Here are some tips that on how to talk to your children about your diabetes without confusing, frightening or worrying them.
Living with diabetes means you will have to do certain things that your children will see as being different from what other people do or don’t.
This will naturally make them curious and they are likely to ask you questions at some point. As a parent, it can be tricky to find a way where you satisfy their curiosity and yet avoid alarming them.
These suggestions can help you explain the condition gently to them in an age-appropriate manner:
1. Let them come to you:
It’s unlikely that your children will inform you ahead of time that they want to sit down and discuss something important with you. It will probably be a spur of the moment conversation where they will broach the topic when you’re least expecting it. This is fine. “Don’t be the one who initiates the talk or they will start to worry that it is much more serious than you’re letting on,” says Consulting Homoeopathic Psychiatrist, Counsellor and Regression Therapist, Dr Dinal Vora who specializes in Child Mental Health. “Stay open to questions but don’t make a big deal about it.”
2. Stay calm:
Yes, it can be unnerving when children look you straight in the eye and ask, “Are you going to die?” or something equally grave. It doesn’t matter how young they are, brushing them off or laughing away their concerns is not going to help them feel reassured. Instead, approach them with respectful attention and ask them to speak their mind about what is bothering them.
3. Stick to the point:
Once they open up, get them to share how they arrived at whatever conclusion they’ve drawn and observe how they processed the information they’ve gathered. Dr Vora reiterates that you can address their most serious concerns in very specific ways and let the rest go if they look satisfied enough with your response.
4. Keep it light:
It can be tempting to go into details once you start speaking about the disease. But don’t overwhelm them with too much information. Keep it casual and give them facts they can handle. After checking with them, move on to chatting about other things, like their schoolwork or their friends.
5. Avoid lying or deflecting:
If you feel uncomfortable speaking about your illness, lying or changing the topic will only alarm your child further. They will presume that you are trying to hide something and will begin to fill in the gaps in information with their imagination, or worse, with wrong information from their peers.
6. Involve others:
Inviting your partner into the conversation or even a grandparent who can explain the hereditary aspect of the disease can be very helpful. Don’t try to carry the whole burden of this conversation alone if you don’t have to.
Perhaps the best thing is to find ways to spend more time with your child so that they are reassured.
Kids have a wonderfully sensitive radar and easily pick up on emotions like anxiety or frustration. If you are experiencing any of these due to your struggle with diabetes, it’s time to call for help. We are here on standby with experts and consultants to guide you in managing your diabetes better and even reversing it.