Explaining Diabetes to Children

So I feel like I have the hang of explaining diabetes to friends, family and random people on the street but this evening a child of a friend of mine saw me testing my blood sugar and asked me what I was doing. She also pointed to my pump and asked what it was. I stood there and realized I had no idea what to say. She was about 3 years old. Still super young but smart enough to know if I was lying about it. I wanted to answer her question honestly but in an easy way she would understand and not frighten her.

I plan on working with children once my dance career is over so I better have a good way to explain things!

So what do you guys say when a child asks you about your diabetes?

I tell them straight up. I taught some martial arts classes a few years ago and worked with kids while learning to be an instructor. Some could care less and some were interested. When I showed up with the pump several of them were like “Is that a PAGER!!”, excited at the prospect of me getting “in big trouble” for violating a rule, not knowing that I’d cleared it with the boss ahead of time! A 3 year old might glaze over at “big words” but they are like sponges and I’m sure all of the teddy bears and/ or Barbies would have insulin pumps in no time?

It’s really been amazing seeing my 5 year old grow in knowledge about his brother’s diabetes. They are 10 years apart but I would say in another year he could be suggesting insulin doses and counting his brother’s carbs. No not really, but he does ask a lots of questions and seems to understand his brother routine. My type1teen wears a pump and cgm, and sometimes I’ve asked the little one to go down to his brother’s room and ask him what his trend looks like and report back. He remembers vaguely when he was diagnosed and all the questions about that. He knows what happened to his brother’s body and is comfortable with how we have to manage it, whether its shots, lows (that his brother has to stop playing with him), foods or his mom’s attention. I think for a short explanation to a small child you don’t interact with often, say "In your body you have something called insulin that turns your food into energy to play, my body stop making insulin so I wear a pump that gives me insulin I get from my doctor, if I didn’t have this I would get very sick, but have it and I feel great! Maybe as AR23 said the 3 year old might get glazed over with even that. Good Luck. :slight_smile:

My best friend’s grandson totally gets it! He has observed me injecting and testing and just says “… poorly blood”. He knows that I cannot eat sweet stuff (his words) but that I have to keep testing to check what level it is. He also knows that sometimes I do have to eat sweets if I go too low. I just use words that the child can understand. He knows what blood is (he scrapes himself often enough!) he knows poorly. He knows medicine. And he is fine with all of it.

Children are extremely inquisitive and it is good to just answer all their questions as they come in language they can understand. I had a lump cut out of my face a few months ago and I went to the supermarket afterwards. I was in the queue and there was a little girl behind me who tapped me on the derrier and said “Excuse me? Did you cut yourself shaving like my daddy does?” (I had 6 stitches and steristrips).

I was with my nephew the other day whom I do not know very well, he lives in America and I am in the UK. I had a hypo - but did not say anything, I was just looking for my supplies. He observed that I was very sweaty, and asked if I had just had a shower and forgotten to dry myself?

My neice asks sometimes why I have to inject–I just tell her it’s Auntie Teowyn’s medicine and I have to take it so I can eat. She’s four and trying to tell her about insulin would be an exercise in "why"s–when she’s older, I might get into bigger explanations, but right now what’s important is that she knows that it’s mine. Another neice gave me a scare last month when she got into my room while I wasn’t looking and got into my purse. By the time I saw her, she had my insulin and an open syringe and was walking around the house.

The four year old is also morbidly curious about taking my blood sugar–I think because sometimes I eat candy afterward (she likes glucose tablets–and if I’m going to eat one in front of her, I give her one as well). But also because her grandfather (not my father) has t2, so she watches him take his blood sugar as well. She tells me that when she’s grown up, she’ll take her blood sugar, but now it’s not necessary.

"Because elephants have flat feet :slight_smile: " (if they are that young)

To a 3 year old I would say something like I test my blood to make sure I am OK or my sugar is OK and I take my medicine to help me eat food. Simple and easy.

Thanks everyone!
I especially like the “because elephants have flat feet” comment. I doubt it would work with her but it would be fun to fire off as an experiment.
I feel much more comfortable explaining now. I guess I haven’t been around too many children since my diagnosis but that’ll change I’m sure :slight_smile:

Kids are so resiliant. They may ask questions time and again for a while, but after a while they will not bat an eyelid at our crazy antics and think no more of it. It is us adults that complicate things!

Really appreciated finding this thread - I have a wee one, he just turned 2 years old...lately he has been very interested in the diabetes aspect of my life...he is an especially bright, communicative 2 year old so we have been explaining everything "straight up" (as AR said) and so far things are going pretty well...
When he sees my glucometer out he asks if I need "fruits" (my trick for getting my sugars up is a wee pack of Mott's fruit gums, they are the perfect 15-15 for me), if I say, no, mommy is testing for breakfast/lunch/dinner, and off he goes to play or whatever he is doing, but if I tell him I'm checking because I don't feel right, he runs to get my husband or stands with me until I tell him I'm okay.
I have always tested and injected in front of him, so he is familiar with it...now I just have to properly contextualize it all and hope that I do a good job :)

I am happy to see this also. My grand daughter is 3, and her brother is 1. She asked me once, and I did not know what to say. I like some of these answers, but their mother is SUPER protective and I am unsure how she will react if I do explain. I'll talk to my son about it this weekend, so I am prepared the next time!

Thanks for the thread--it spurs me tofigure this one out!

Best of luck this weekend Spock - must be a difficult situation bc they are your grandchildren and yet not your children...hopefully, your son is more open-minded :)