Adolescence is a critical stage of development in the life of every person. During this period, teenagers strive to become independent, free from their parents and other adults. In adolescence, the opinion of friends and peers prevails over the opinion of family. And of course, the presence of diabetes only complicates the relationship between parents and adolescents. Below are tips from psychologists who deal with the problems of adolescents with diabetes. We hope that they will help you establish contact with your children, take a fresh look at existing or prevent possible problems, and improve the quality of diabetes control.
1. Do not control the teenager every minute, but do not leave him alone with diabetes. Being a parent of a teenager with diabetes is very hard work. In addition to knowing where he or she is, who he or she will be with when he or she returns home, you also need to monitor how often Your child measures blood glucose, how to calculate insulin doses, whether to inject insulin before meals, and so on. It is absolutely necessary to know all this, because, first of all, it is very difficult for teenagers to control diabetes without the help and supervision of adults, since they have not yet reached sufficient cognitive and emotional maturity and sometimes cannot make sober, informed decisions. By the way, even adults with diabetes can not always correctly assess the situation and make the right decision, so what do we want from teenagers who, in addition to diabetes, have many other problems with school, peers, and the experience of first relationships during this period of life. Secondly, joint control of diabetes helps Your child not to feel lonely and helpless in the face of such a serious disease as diabetes. But if your control turns into criticism and instructions on what to do and how to do it, then this behavior model will only lead to an increase in the number of conflicts, loss of trust between you, loss of independence of the teenager and, as a result, deterioration of diabetes control. The only way to find a balance is to discuss with your child how they see Your participation in diabetes control, as well as Express their position.
2. Reduce the frequency of conflicts without resorting to punishments Frequent conflicts in the family lead to a worsening of the course of diabetes. It has been proven that persuasion, persuasion, and lecturing do not work with teenagers (in fact, these methods do not work with anyone). Threats, punishments, or other forms of violence are also not effective. All these tactics only contribute to the escalation of the conflict. Being a smart parent means avoiding repetition over and over again. Say something once or twice. Respect your child’s intelligence. If they don’t listen to You, it doesn’t mean they don’t understand you. He just doesn’t want to do it for his own reasons. Talk to them, find out the problem, listen to the opinion of the teenager and try to give competent arguments.
3. Empathize, not regret How long have you been telling your child how much you appreciate that they are coping so well with diabetes? How do you respect him and are impressed by his stamina and resilience to the disease? Even if you think that, in General, your child does not have very good control of diabetes, you can certainly note the items that Your child performs regularly or correctly. Praise him for this. Show That you understand how difficult it is to control diabetes, how difficult it is for a teenager with diabetes to live. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, it’s empathy, not pity. And be sure to say that you are ready to support him in everything, that he can turn to You for help at any time.
4. Remember that first of all, this is Your child, and not a patient with diabetes Very often when parents ask: “How are you?”, they mean: “What’s your glucose level?” And all communication is limited only to problems of diabetes. And it also does not contribute to the cohesion of the family. Tell your child about yourself and your work. Ask about your friends and how their day went. Suggest going to a movie, bowling alley, or shopping Mall together. Of course, most likely, Your child will refuse, because he is a teenager, and he is more interested in spending time with friends. But in this way, you make him feel that he is important to You not only in terms of his physical condition.
5. Share responsibility parents Usually assume that teenagers are independent enough to control their diabetes on their own. It sounds like ” He does everything for me, I don’t interfere.” However, studies have shown that good glycemic control in this age group can only be achieved with the joint management of diabetes. Since diabetes is too serious a disease for one person, especially if they are so young. There is a need for a gradual transition from managing diabetes together with parents to independent control of the disease . In this issue, there are no clear time limits, try to gradually shift individual functions and manipulations to the responsibility of the teenager himself and monitor the quality of glycemic control, the level of glycated hemoglobin. Tips for parents of teenagers with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes, diabetes mellitus, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, Rule 15. Fig. 1. the Degree of family participation in the control of type 1 diabetes (adapt. from Garvey KC, Markowitz JT, Laffel L. Transition to Adult Care for Youth with Type 1 Diabetes. Current Diabetes Reports 2012)
6. Don’t try to scare teenagers with stories about chronic complications of diabetes (leg amputations, etc.) This point applies not only to teenagers, but also to all people with diabetes. Fear should not be a motivating factor. As for teenagers, it is especially important for them what is happening here and now, and they do not think at all what will happen to them in 20 years. And if You are going to talk about how high blood glucose level damages the blood vessels in the eyes or the kidneys, the teenager will just skip all the information on deaf ears. Try to find other motivation, such as saying that you will allow him to learn to drive if he has good glycemic control.
7. Do not scold if you see high or low numbers on the blood glucose meter the blood glucose Level depends on many factors, and sometimes it is very difficult to take them all into account. Instead of scolding, focus on what needs to be done now. And then calmly analyze the possible problems of what happened. But most importantly, understand that your blood glucose level can’t always be perfect, no matter how hard You or your child try to control diabetes. Everyone has bad days, everyone gets diabetes out of control periodically, and this is normal. The main thing in such moments is not to fall into despair.
8. Don’t tell everyone that your child has diabetes Let teenagers choose who they want to tell and who they don’t. Don’t put your child in awkward situations.
9. Do not limit the physical or social activity of a teenager due to the presence of diabetes Do not think for yourself and do not let others think that Your child is sick or incapable of anything. He is the same as others and can achieve anything he wants. Restrictions on physical activity or school trips only highlight the differences and may contribute to the feeling that a teenager with diabetes is worse than others. Encourage your children to participate in as many extracurricular activities and sports as they want, and as much as their schedule allows. These types of activities can increase self–esteem and give the feeling that they are capable of much.