For this age group, how the diabetes management routine is handled is important. Infants are adept at picking up their guardians' feelings. Babies will learn to be fearful or upset about checking and injecting if they sense these feelings from a caregiver. Being consistent with a regular schedule is easier for the whole family.
Independence is important to the toddler. Allow them to make choices in their daily routine, but set limits; injection time is not negotiable, but the site of injection can be agreed upon. Toddlers have a strong sense of guilt and may feel they caused the diabetes. They may see pain and illness as punishment.
The imagination of preschoolers is boundless. They may have unrealistic ways of thinking, i.e. "if I wish hard enough, my diabetes will go away." Also, toilet training may be difficult when blood sugar is running high. Rules and routine are still important.
Don't allow others to show sympathy to the child with diabetes because this can incapacitate the whole family. Children need secure love, not pity. Be careful not to place "good" or "bad" values on blood-sugar readings; the numbers will be "high" or "low."
This is a time of adjustment. It's a time of change and growth, physically, emotionally and mentally. These changes can induce stress in a young person's life. Studies show using positive coping strategies for the stresses of diabetes significantly affects how well the child responds to treatment. This results in improved blood-sugar control, better psychological and social adjustment.
Many teens test limits, have mood swings and are closer to their friends than they are to their family; this is normal child development. Research shows that teens whose guardians stay involved in their diabetes management have better blood-sugar control than do teens whose guardians allow them total independence in their diabetes care.
Taking care of the caregiver is vital. Many guardians may harbor unconscious guilt about their child's diabetes. It is important they acknowledge these feelings and have a support network they can rely on. It's also healthy for guardians to have time away from their children, with or without a chronic illness.