How much do I tell a nine year old?

My husband and I want my daughter too understand how important it is to take good care of herself and that sometimes she will need to make sacrifices for the good of her health. We obviously don't want to scare her but we want to be honest with her at the same time. She was diagnosed a little more than a year ago and was great until recently (and she is still great but with some arguing). I feel she is going through an anger period. She is mad about having to do anything, wash her hands to take her level, taking her level in general, putting lotion on at night so her omnipod sites heal quicker and are not as itchy, not being able to have just anything to eat like other kids etc. Some are big deals, some are not but she is mad about all of them. Any advice on approaching the subject of caring about why it is so important for her to take care of her health? Because lately her standard answer is I don't care!

I really feel for you. We had our appointment yesterday. A1C was 8.2. Obviously need to do better, but I struggle with letting her be a kid and doing what I know is best. I realized when sharing my frustrations with staff yesterday that I somehow fell away from what had seemed to work, which was offering choices. Grace was diagnosed when she was 2, so there was no reasoning or explaining. At age 6, she is still a pretty concrete thinker. Rather than argue, I had been a lot better about asking…where do you want the injection? What finger should I poke? So there was no arguing about what needed to be done, but she still had a choice in the matter.

I don’t think you want to get into real scary stuff. But perhaps trying to allow her choices will help. I had bought some books to help explain diabetes to Grace’s Kindergarten class. This one was a little advanced, so saving it for when she is older, but perhaps it might help you now, if you haven’t already seen it -

Grace has had an outburst or two, often wishing she was like her brother (non-diabetic). They always make me want to cry. But I swallow hard and tell her that I agree, diabetes sucks, but it is what it is and we have to do the best we can.

I also try humor. Last night was no fun. It was suggested that we move her pump site to some other locations. So last night my intent was to place it above her belly button, which had been not a choice Grace wanted. So we danced back and forth over it, and then I warned her that I was going to put it there. It was quite a scene, but after it was over, I joked about how her brother would have been a huge baby about the whole (kind of ignoring all her crying and fussing). Fortunately he played along and hammed it up with me. Soon she was laughing about it, and by this morning all was forgotten.

I can’t imagine what it is like for her to have other people constantly attacking her body…and so I think “control” will always be an issue. So I think where we can give it to them, it is important.

My son was diagnosed 10 years ago at the age of 2 and we still have our battles. Mom takes things way more seriously than anyone else. As Lori says, give her some choices like which finger to test, etc. There are other things that you cannot negotiate it on…like testing. Remind her that you test so that you can know what her readings are. That information allows you to help her feel better by being in range. She will know that she feels “icky” when high or low. She needs to understand that she is “helping” you to help her. Its her disease but you need to work together so she can feel great and play with her friends.

I also highly recommend diabetes camp, diabetes support group outings, or diabetes family conferences. They are a great way for the entire family to feel less alone or different.

Thanks for the comments. I do appreciate them and I do love this site. It does wonders for me sometimes. We are doing the Clara Barton Camp this summer so I am hoping that will be a good boost for her.

Okay. The following is meant to be a BIG boost to all concerned. It’s called “going to diabetes camp.” As written in “My Diabetic Soul,” the author, me, greatly encourages and details the effects and affects of such an experience. The author spent nine summers of her childhood at Clara Barton Birthplace Camp in North Oxford, Massachusetts. Such camps were initially founded to provide inspiration, education, and support for children living with insulin-dependent diabetes and their families. The children learn that they are not alone. The children and their families learn that education is one of the most important tools in managing diabetes.
I am not sure if CBC offers a scholarship, accommodating and available for low-income families. It would be helful for you to ask them Work it! Actually, it is that time of year when applications are being accepted.
In California, there are eight such camps; as mentioned, Massachusetts has one that I am particularly and personally fond of.
I contribute my 50-years of successfully living as an insulin-dependent diabetic to CBC. Proceeds of the book will be going to assist in all their endeavors. Shelly Yeager is a name to rememeber as well. If you are not yet familiar or aware, she has been an active and pro-active Director for all of DECA for many years.
I hope to hear from you in the near future. AK.

I love you guys - all of you - through your writings. I wish you were there for me and my family when I was two years old, my baby sister five years old, and another baby sister 12 years old. Well, it wasn’t meant to be. So now that I’m an active diabetic “gramma lady,” I chose to mentor. Learn, learn, and learn some more!

I’m all for sending her to diabetes camp. I’m in my mid-40’s and still have special friends from camp. There is nothing like knowing people that totally understand. It is motivating as well.

Although my daughter was not considered an “at risk” kid, I got her a big sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters. It was a wonderful thing to do for her. I’ve been thinking of becoming a Big Sister myself, specifically looking for a Little that is a diabetic. Just a thought. She could be a Little to a diabetic Big. The friendships that are formed between Little’s and Bigs are so wonderful.
As far as what to tell her, it’s difficult for a kid to think too far in the future. You could say that since she is diabetic, she is more prone to health problems. That is why it is important to take care of herself. At one point, when I was 10 years into type 1 and a 16 year old, my mom said that I needed to take care of myself because kids aren’t supposed to die before their parents. That did stick in my mind. I was a rebelling teen and we had been at this for 10 years.

As Dena said I think it’s really hard when you’re young to look that far into the future and to care enough about it to give priority over the present…so getting her to focus on immediate consequences of her actions might work out better… pointing out how bad it feels when you’re low or high, which is why doing just a little bit now can help to prevent them from happening as much.
You may also want to consider a way to give her a “break/vacation” (as much as one can) or easing off of something things…because it can be a control issue…not just with parents…but that diabetes itself can feel like it’s controlling or eating up your life/overtaking you…and the more things one has to do for it/the sake of being healthy the more one might feel they are losing themselves/control of their life
I think even simple things too like reinforcing to her that you want her to live a long healthy life/because you love is helfpul …even if she doesn’t respond now…receiving that message as kid will strech far out into the future…and it also helps to reinforce that it’s her and not the Diabetes that is most important…