How do you watch your preteen make bad choices and not intervene?

Kennedy is 11 and t1 for almost a year now, wow, almost a year!! just coming out of honeymoon, using omnipod for 6 months or so... she is just starting to want to have some more independence with her bolusing and carb counting, and she has just started to do more on her own while she is with her dad and I am at work... how do I let up and let her make some mistakes and learn from them on her own? I am terrified of these teen years coming on, knowing how often teens can have poor control, yet I know if I am too controlling with her I could win the battle but lose the war... diabetes camp coming up and she is looking forward to it. any thoughts or advice from adult t1's who went through this as teen preteen would be greatly appreciated?!


That would depend what sort of choices they are? I am always engaged in various conflicts w/ the 13 year-old, many about food, as she has a pretty fair appetite for snacks, although she generally seems to be a pretty healthy eater, in that she actively looks for multiple food groups, etc. Outside of food, she also seems to generally make good choices and behave reasonably well in most situations away from us (parents) but is always sort of "up to something" around here? The key thing is to stay on top of diabetes, figure out a way to bolus to eat 1/2 a pizza and ice cream or how to consider a reasonable portion and calculate for it properly instead of saying "it's hopeless so why bother guessing what the bolus is?" which seems to be the conclusion some people make when faced with the challenge of diabetes? I would think camp would be a good place for that too?

As our children gradually start becoming independent from us in their teen years there is always going to be some tension between giving more independence and being too controlling. When these issues of independence came up I was always the one saying "no you can't do that", while my wife would always say "yes you can do that". She told me you had to trust that you have given your kid the tools to make good choices and then gradually cut them loose. I always gave in and we went with what my wife felt was appropriate. I think this is because her own parents were very controlling and she rebelled big time. My daughter turned out great and is a very responsible adult now, so I think my wife was correct. I think it is important that you realize mistakes will be made and choose to use them as learning experiences.

YES! we have made a commitment to FIGURING things out rather than giving up which has helped tremendously, some friends told me their camp helped out so much in helping their preteen become more confident in self management!

My wife and I raised two boys and they turned out OK. My boys don't have D at least not yet although T2 may be in their future like it was for me. D or not I think it makes little difference when it come to being a parent.

We set reasonable rules for our kids and tried to teach them the right way. When they messed up we let them know without being overbearing. Very seldom did we come down hard on them because it only causes resentment. Kids are kids and when they mess up they will know it if we have taught them well and set a good example.

Gary S

I was diagnosed at 11, and am now 30 years old and doing really well. The teen years are tough, but I think you're doing the right thing by trying to find a balance. Diabetes camp helped SO incredibly much, that would've been my first suggestion to you! One thing I really wished my parents had understood is how much I wanted to be just like everyone else. Everything makes you self conscious as a teenager already, and when you add diabetes into the mix, it just gets worse. So, I would suggest trying to be sensitive to the fact that diabetes might make her self conscious. For example, try not to bug her about it in front of her friends too much. If you have to talk about it, pull her aside and do it discretely. Find ways to let her participate in normal teenage girl things without feeling like the "odd" one out because she's not allowed to eat this or that or has to take a shot or eat a snack, etc. For example, if she's headed to a party, discuss before hand how she is going to handle eating or taking medication and work out a plan that you're both comfortable with.

One other big thing that would've helped me and my parents tremendously is to realize that "high" or "low" do not mean "bad" and "in range" does not mean "good". Take the value judgments out of the lows or highs and see them just as the numbers that they are. Just because your daughter is high or low does not mean you or she have failed in some way. See the numbers as a reference point for what you need to do next, not as a judgement about what has happened in the past. Does that make sense? I spent a lot of time feeling guilty about being high or low, and my parents and I got in a lot of fights about why I was high or low too. Even if your daughter and you do everything right, she will not always be in perfect control because of teenage hormones, emotions, and the nature of diabetes. And please don't hesitate to ask any more questions, we're all here to help!

Erin Huff Carper is right on. Be careful of her self-consciousness and in front of her friends. She will have mistakes and will have to learn from them--everyone does. Also, when Erin says to take the value judgement out of the numbers and just see them as numbers....that was HUGE for me. There was too much of the "good" numbers vs the "bad" numbers that I just felt like a failure most of the time.

I was diagnosed at 15 and never went to diabetes camp, so I think that will be good for her. I was "bad" in my college years, but am just now getting back under control. I read what you write on here a lot and I think you are doing a great job with Kennedy. There's bound to be some struggles and some fights (after all, she'll be a TEENAGER soon!) but you'll pull through, she'll be stronger for having learned her own way, and you will be proud to have raised such a strong, independent child.

I got diagnosed when I was 10 and i pretty much ate what my mom cooked me but now I am working at chicfila and all there foods except their salads make my sugar crazy . I try to be a good boy LOL but sometimes it is hard even if it makes me feel like crap . I feel so much better when I eat right . My mom gets on me and tells me " your the one that is feeling like crap one day you are going to quit doing it " LOL and I only do it about once a week now
She will have to feel bad with high then lows quite a few times then she will catch on . I am on shots not the pump I well me & my mom thinks that I would eat more junk if I had the pump .

good advice, thanks!

wow Erin, thanks so much!! I will let kennedy read this tonight!! great advice! ( she's almost 12 and they won't let her on till next year!)

you might, but you will be able to so more precisely dose your insulin!! thanks!!

Hi natalie, i have struggled with this issue as well. jacob is 13 and 3 years in and knows the in and outs but i still basically manage him because i feel like he has his whole life to manage it, so i try to do alot for him and plan to relinquish more responsiblity with every year leading up to college. he really isnt that interested in doing a ton now or just lets me handle it because i just do. he tends to handle his snack boluses solo so i have been giving him some space with that! it really is hard even on the days my husband is home for him with dinner i have to bite my tongue on some of the decisions they make, overall they do well but can guess. i think my approach is to handle it as best we can but not let it control our lives, i feel by being very involved now it helps with my comfort level and lets him be a kid. i am working on being less reactive to high numbers i agree to what others have said they are numbers to learn from not bad or good. but as you know some days are more challenging, i worry more about how he handles things emotionally and being different rather than how he handles the day to day stuff, but all that should come with maturity as well as their taking over the reigns a litte more. best of luck! amy

Yes please whatever else, try not to make her feel self-conscious. It is so hard being a teen, and dealing with hormones and what your friends think etc that when you throw diabetes in on top of it, and suddenly you are the "odd" can't eat like your friends etc it can be really hard. This has been on my mind today, and just I mean Im sure what caused this to be on my mind today was done in love and concern..but all I could think is they have no idea how much this may backfire and cause this young girl to just resent everyone and her diabetes and NOT care at all. I think you are doing a great job with Kennedy, and I as a parent of a teen its not easy, regardless of whether they are diabetic or not, but its also a learning process, where they learn and yes sometimes mistakes will happen but diabetes is something that is going to be with Kennedy for a lifetime, and I think as Erin said just try to take the good and the bad out of the numbers and use them as a learning experience. If Kennedy indulges and eats a little too much of food she shouldn't...dont make her feel guilty, instead ask her next time how will you handle this. Life is too short, and its much better in my opinion sometimes to let up a little, even if it might mean numbers out of the "good" range and let Kennedy enjoy being a young girl with her frieds even if that entails pizza and cup cakes within reason of course.

Hello Natalie:

I cannot remember a time I was not a diabetic. Diagnosed barely out of diapers, a long, long time ago.

I have not read the thread yet. My thought for whatever it is worth is simple. If we have the training, have the knowledge, you MUST NOT interfere, unless it is immediately life or death. Unless it is you must let us make the mistakes, whatever they might be.

Whatever the issue testing, food, basic stupidity... by that age they are doing the tests, the math, the injections, the boluses you are not doing them, right? You can reward outright and you can and make serious incentives.

But at the end of the day, both the failures, and the successes are ours. With most things we need guidance, intense humor, and a whole lot of honest sincerity. SO depending on the particular issue(s) there are different approaches, different carrots, different sticks.

If the issue were drinking, or sex you would be straight with her, and listening a whole lot right? This is not that different. What you believe behind closed doors, with your husband, your partner, or even here is a different creature than what you say to your daughter. Treat her like an adult that soon she will be.

Shes gonna make severe mistakes with boys, and with her insulin too, unfortunately. She'll learn, and so will you. What do you feel the biggest issue is for you? Is it fear she'll harm herself long term? You afraid she'll massively screw-up coverage and crash? The very best, the most experienced among us cannot guarantee anything... we do what we can, sometimes we fail. We all do sometimes.

The trick is not making it a habit >: >. Your daughter is NOT a diabetic, she is a teen who ALSO happens to have diabetes as well as her other challenges as well. Different creatures.

So give us a better seat at your "table", the cards you are playing with, perhaps we can help?