Dealing With Your Friends
At first you may feel funny about your diabetes around your friends. You may feel kind of left out, maybe even a little weird. Or maybe you’ll feel kind of special. Your friends will want to know about your diabetes. Tell them what you know about diabetes and make sure they understand that they can’t “catch” it. It is not like a cold or the flu.
Tell them how you test your blood and inject insulin. You can even show them if you want to. Most kids will find that interesting and even kind of cool. They will think it’s neat that you do these tests and take these shots every day. If you have a pump, show them how that works. Once your friends understand something about diabetes, they won’t treat you any differently than anyone else.
If someone does treat you unfairly, talk about it with your teacher or parents. Usually people act strangely only when they don’t understand something. If you sit down and talk with that person and explain your diabetes to them, that will probably make them understand. Insulin gives you that extra help you need. You’re no different in that way than someone who has to wear glasses or braces. But sometimes, people are just mean. If you run across people like that, just ignore them. There are plenty of other people around who want to be friends.
Dealing with Your Family
Sometimes having diabetes can change things in the family. Maybe your parents treat you differently. Maybe it seems like they boss you around too much or don’t let you do the things you used to do. Maybe it seems like they nag you. Maybe your parents seem nervous and you start to feel nervous too. It can be hard when you are treated differently and you may start to feel bad too.
But this is normal. Even when you are sick in bed with the flu or cold, your parents worry and maybe even fuss a little too much. When you have diabetes, your parents worry about you. It’s because they love you and want you to feel good. If you don’t like the way they are treating you, talk to your parents. Tell them how you are feeling. This can help everyone feel a little better.
If you have brothers and sisters, things can change for them too. When you found out about your diabetes, you probably got a lot of attention. This probably made your brothers and sisters feel left out. They may have even felt that your parents loved you more. That can make them feel bad and start treating you badly too. Even though they love and care about you, they are not used to being left out. If you see your brothers and sisters treating you differently, try to be understanding.
After a while everything will probably go back to normal. If things really get out of hand, talk to your parents about it. Sometime your siblings act just the opposite. They care about you too and worry about you. They may follow you around all the time. It might even start to bug you. If this happens, don’t worry about it. Tell them you are okay and want to be treated like you always were. Just understand that they act that way because they care.
Dealing with Your Feelings
When you found out you had diabetes, you probably felt a lot of different feelings. Maybe you were feeling sick before you knew, and finding out it was diabetes was a relief. No wonder you were feeling so crummy! Maybe you were a little scared. You knew that diabetes was serious and your life would never be the same. Maybe you felt odd, like you had something no one else did and you really didn’t like feeling different. Or maybe you even felt special. You may have received extra attention and maybe even now you get special treats that no one else gets.
Once you began to work with your diabetes, maybe things settled down a little. You got used to testing your blood, giving yourself shots and eating a little differently. Maybe you realized it wasn’t all that bad. Still, every now and then, maybe you get sick of always having to worry about what you are supposed to eat and get tired of having to test your blood all the time.
Sometimes you might even feel downright angry. It’s okay to feel that way sometimes. You will have good days and bad days, like any other kid or any other grown-up. Sometimes you feel bad and it has nothing to do with your diabetes.
Just make sure that if something really starts to bug you, talk to your parents. A lot of times, there are things about diabetes that you don’t like, such as never being able to have the snacks you want. But often you can work out ways around this so you can make your diabetes easier to live with. Your parents can be your best friends when it comes to sorting out your feelings. Talk with them, and you can probably figure out a way to work things out.
Sources and References
The Diabetes Problem Solver—Quick Answers to Your Questions About Treatment and Self-Care by Nancy Touchette
Addressing Diabetes Distress in Clinical Care: A Practical Guide by L Fisher, W H Polonsky and D Hessler
Network and Social Support in Family Care of Children with Diabetes by L Castanheira, M Guedes et al