Help for a Mom of a tween T1 diabetic!

Hi all! I am curious if any of you have any suggestions for me regarding my 10 year old and his management of his diabetes. He has started the dreaded “I am going to pretend I don’t actually have diabetes” phase that I have been told about. He has not been checking his BG before eating and has been lying to the nurse at school about the amount of food he has consumed. His BG has never been in full control, it seems like as soon as we get it roped in something changes and he is off kilter again. HELP!! Any suggestions or comments are much appreciated. Thank you all, I am so thankful to have stumbled onto this site!


Yikes, I have enough challenges beating my head against a non-diabetic tween. I think a lot of the tween psyche revolves around looking cool, or cool as they perceive it (cough cough). I wasn’t dx’ed until I was older but it was always very important to me to avoid MISSING OUT ON anything cool as opposed to looking it? It’s an important distinction. It’s very hard to market being interested in stuff to my daughter as everything we suggest is default ‘oh, boring’ or whatever but hobbies, whether it was horrible stuff like being in debauched college rock bands or my more recent interest in exercise or even just sitting on my butt and reading, seem to really have helped me at least maintain interest in keeping my BG in line so I didn’t miss the beer blast/ Tae Kwon Do Test/ chapter? I would suggest that if you can get him into something that will hold his attention, besides video games, computers, facebook,etc. (which are a constant struggle w/ our tween…), it might help him realize that he needs to stay on top of diabetes to try to keep doing what he likes to do? I hope I’m not too off base in comparing our kids but that’s kind of the thing that I’ve noticed.

Does he have any diabetic friends or a diabetic mentor, maybe through JDRF or a program like that? In various times when I’ve felt the same way, it has helped to be around other diabetics who could sympathize, relate and help me get back on track.

Great story! I agree about the sticking steel into your arm having sort of a tough factor about it. Then again, modern, even 1984 when I was dx’ed insulin syringes pale by comparison w/ the MiniMed CGM Hammer of Grond. I wonder though how that compares to 26 AWG? I like what your classmates did with it too. I wonder what they think about it today?

I noticed that the Diabetes camps are starting to register for the summer. Has your son ever been? I wonder if it would be helpful for him to meet other kids with diabetes. Why do you think he isn’t checking? Is it just at school or at home too?

That looks pretty comparable to the CGM inserter, although those are single use only goodies, without the emory cloth.

Thank you for all of the advice and info! Danny has not been very interested in trying camp, he is really nervous about staying over night. I know there are day camps as well but I have not been successful in getting him to give it a shot. This past year has been a struggle for him outside of his diabetes also, Having some issues with anxiety and such, so I have not pushed him outside of his comfort zone since last summer. That may be what he needs, a little loving push. ( :

Lindau- what camps have you had success with? I love the idea of contacting JDRF to ask about hooking him up with someone else with T1D. I think having someone to relate to would help a ton.

Lynne- yes he is on a pump. Has been for 5 years. We have had better control with the pump but he still has too many ups and downs.

At what age did all of you start to take a little more responsibility with your diabetes? Our doc has always told me that I need to try to make Danny’s childhood as plain and regular as I possibly can, but I am thinking that he needs to be a bit more involved than in the past now that he is 10. I have yet to tell him about the devastating side effects that can occur, I don’t want to scare the crap out of him. When is an appropriate time to share that he could need a transplant, lose his eyes sight, a leg or even his life? I just see him as such a little boy still it is so hard to convince myself it is the right time.

Hello Kim:

Sounds like you have a bunch of things going on at the same time. Normal tween behavior with a side order of I don’t wanna, I’m not gonna. As parents we all have to help outsmart our kids dumbest behaviors. Sometimes we have to play act and pretend nothing is wrong.

What’s your take on his behavior? He need a break from his pump? If you play dumb mom, and know he feels like crap, will he fall back in line when you giggle at him, as a woman, as his mom, and know full well his hangover feeling that higher BG produces ? What approach is best to get his attention?

Time for a new “channel” a new approach? Or will the old channels still work?

I don’t recall ever learning about that stuff from doctors but I think I picked it up on the severity of complications from articles in Diabetes Forecast that were in the magazine piles. I was 16 @ DX so I was sort of in the driver’s seat but that was exchanges and sliding scales and I didn’t run into any issues for a while. For whatever a subscription runs, if you leave them lying around the house, he might pick up on the complication thing by osmosis that way?

I’m not sure what is to be gained or lost by finding out or not finding out. I think too that a lot of that, even statistic going into the 1980s, were perhaps skewed by the ancien regime of urine testing and very minimal understanding of BG control and diet and other issues that are pretty commonly in the dialogue now? I am not sure if complication rates are changing or not. It would be interesting to read that. Tim put some charts in this thread that were pretty clear for me to understand but I am not sure I’d want to freak out a 10 year old too much?

The trouble with your son’s situation is that trying to make a ten year old understand long term consequences is never going to work. When I was young and first diagnosed I found that it helped to have diabetic role models. Here is a list of famous diabetics that may interest your son:
Nick Boynton- NHL hockey player
Nick Jonas- The jonas brothers
Charlie Kimball- Nascar Driver
Brett Michaels- Rock star
Jackie Robinson- Baseball Player
Will Cross- First diabetic to climb Mt.Everest
Bobbie Clark- NHL Hockey player
Crystal Bowersox- American Idol contestant 2nd Place
Ayden Byle - Runner - First insulin-dependent man to run 6521.5 km across North America.

I hope this helps. There are also many summer camps for diabetics his age, he may not like the idea of it, but the experience may change his view on things.

I agree with a camp for kids with diabetes. Mom finally allowed me to go way back when (1974, was 14), scared at the beginning, didn’t want to leave by the end of the 2 weeks. Went back the next year, loved it! We were “all the same!” Also agree with Rebecca about role models. There are some things that a diabetic cannot do in our world today, however, your really good friends don’t think anything of the fact that you poke a finger before eating or jab a needle into your arm while at the dining table. And with the pump now, it’s so way more “hidden” that many people just don’t see However, with the policies of dealing with blood sugar testing and insulin injections at school, it can make you stand out - or at least feel that way. Maybe you and your son can brainstorm a solution to the school lunch time routine also, to where he may not have to take time away from hanging out with his classmates to go to the nurse? Just a thought anyway.

My son is newly diagnosed so this will be his first diabetes camp. A friend suggested it and said her daughter LOVED it. I never thought my son would want to do a sleep over camp, however, we didn’t really ask…Instead, we talked about ‘when’ he went to camp since the second week of diagnosis. Once we talked it about it casually I knew he would just assume he was going and have less anxiety (as if, everyone who gets diabetes goes to diabetes camp :)) FYI, the anxiety is very common for all kids. My super outgoing older son didn’t want to go to an overnight lax camp in 6th with his good friends so I had to bribe him with a $100 stick because I knew he would love it and I was right. I’m hoping my son likes it and will go for several years because I think he needs to know he is not alone in this especially after the novelty of it wears off.

I was dx at 16, and like acidrock, it was critically important that I not miss out on anything. But, for me, not looking different was also an element. I think this is more of a part of my personality, just manifesting itself through D.

I think something to build his self-confidence and sense of identity will go a long way. Actually, something like Tae Kwon Do, another martial art, diabetes camp or a sports team might be the thing, if he’s interested. Academic interests or hobbies are good too, but I always got more from the sports teams that I was on than anything else. Teammates are a great source of support. I know that as my confidence in myself elevated, so did the degree to which I was comfortable with my D.

But, at 10, it’s also hard to appreciate long-term consequences. It was at 16 through twentysomething! I don’t think scare tactics work, to be honest. But adjusting to his short-term thinking might get the ball rolling. At his age, you may still be able to turn treatment into some sort of game. Let him stay up later if he meets certain goals (not necessarily specific bgs, but testing a certain # of times per day).

My daughter was diagnosed just this past Sept. 2010. She is 7 yrs old and the only kid at her school with T1. The school staff have been so helpful. My daughter is going to camp this yr. If you go on YouTube…your son can watch the video of camp and other kids that have been there. I have a friend at work, that he son went to camp every yr and had a good time because everyone there has T1. They have family camp to…where the parent can go with them. Wish you lots of lucky.

I can’t say much, my mother tossed it in my 16 yr old lap and said it was mine. Wake up call, and stumbled and landed in the hospital with fading kidney trouble. I have to say, it was a wake up call, it was mine and Mom said so!

And he is a 10 yrs old, and I think his Dr needs to have a long serious talk with him. If he isn’t caring now, some harder yrs are coming. Have you tried to pair him up with another child with Type 1, and one that takes a care in it?

I know I never told a sole, I felt like a freak. So I don’t know what to say…

It is not too early to tell him what might happen and why it would happen. He still might not “get” it. My son who is 17 now has figured out that when you have good numbers you actually feel better. He likes feeling better, right now. There was a time that he didn’t care. I guess you can make sure he understands everything about it and then give him some control, with the understanding that you will need to monitor and “help” if needed. Maybe he feels like going to the nurse is inconvenient, maybe it isn’t cool. The tween and teen years aren’t easy.