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The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes

January 2008 -
The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes Newsletter

Helping Siblings Adjust

Laura PlunkettThis issue is focused on helping siblings adjust to the considerable changes a family goes through after a child is diagnosed. As parents, we struggle to learn to give shots, count carbohydrates, and regulate blood sugars while we deal with our own anxiety, depression and sometimes anger. Our children feel the tension. Mealtimes become complicated and stressful. All of a sudden, there are pharmacy visits, doctors' appointments, tense phone calls and additional financial worries. At the same time, the newly diagnosed child is the center of attention while the other children are moved to the sidelines.

My daughter Jessica was ten when her seven-year-old brother Danny got diabetes. She struggled with feeling ignored and fears about her brother's health. Some of her worst moments were when my husband and I shut her out of our conversations, trying to concentrate on insulin doses and meal planning with our backs to her. She also complained that Danny got anything he wanted when he was low, and we never treated her that way. During that emotional and hectic first year, I knew she needed extra support, but I was overwhelmed. I turned to our extended family for help and also learned to include her as an ally. Six years later, she still remembers the extra attention she had from her aunt and grandmother, her inclusion in all our meetings with doctors and nutritionists in the hospital when Danny was first diagnosed, and, later, the pride of learning to baby-sit for a child with diabetes. Most recently, she has started talking about the health benefits of being in a family that eats well and exercises together.

There are many things we can do as parents to ease our children’s adjustment. I hope that the articles and information in the Resource and Supporting Each Other sections give you inspiration.

All my best,

Laura Plunkett

Supporting Each Other

Siblings oftentimes need someone to talk with that understands their situation. There are several ways to help your children find supportive friends. Childrenwithdiabetes.com by Jeff Hitchcock helps children find pen pals. In Massachusetts, we have HighLow Diabetes, Inc., which helps families with children the same age to find each other. In addition, most local hospitals have diabetes support groups with leaders that can help find a match for your child.

Share Your Tips

Do you have suggestions for helping your children adjust to the diagnosis? I’d love to hear from you at newsletter@challengeofdiabetes.com.

January 2008

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This year, my daughter Jessica wrote an article entitled "How I Coped with my Little Brother's Diabetes: Three Things that Made a Difference" for Diabetes Health magazine. It offers a teenager's perspective on what parents can do to help their children's transition.

Strain is put on siblings in families who change their diets after diagnosis as we did. I wrote, "Creating a Family Culture of Healthy Eating,” published in diabetesincontrol.com to highlight the ways we tried to minimize the stress on the children as we moved away from white flour, white sugar and fatty foods.

For an honest account of the ups and downs of adjusting as an intergenerational family during the first two years, consider our book "The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes: Family Strategies for Raising a Healthy Child.” In the Survival Guide in the back, you will find such tips as:

- Try to make major decisions jointly with significant others. Children are more likely to comply with demands if the adults in their lives agree.
- Sharing childcare with the parents of children with diabetes is optimal. You can meet them at local Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation coffees.

The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes book

Click here to order
“The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes: Family Strategies for Raising a Healthy Child” at the author's discount.


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