My 12 yr old son is lying about blood sugars and sneaking food. HELP!

I am new to this website. My son is 12yrs old, he has type 1 diabetes and wears an insulin pump. He was dx’ed at age 2 and has been pumping for six years now. His A1c’s have been awesome, in the high 5’s to low 6’s…that is until his last one a month ago which went up to 8. My son has been sneaking food, hiding the wrappers, not bolusing for what he sneaks, lying about blood sugars, saying he bolused or corrected when he didn’t, the list goes on and on. I have spent the last ten yrs devoted to taking good care of him, trying to teach him how to live with diabetes and be a normal kid at the same time. I think I did a great job, but then again…maybe I didn’t since he’s now rebelling. Since he’s gone on the pump, I’ve showed him that he can eat what he wants and when he wants, skip a meal if he wants, sleep in if he wants. I just don’t understand why he is now starting to lie about having a high blood sugar or sneaking food and not bolusing. Both his doctor and I have explained to him the risks of what could happen to him should he continue to do this and he seemed to care at the time but he continues to lie and sneak. I’ve told him that if he’s gonna sneak food to at least bolus for it. I’ve asked him why he lies about his blood sugars and he says it’s cause I get upset when he’s high. I’ve tried to explain that I get upset when he’s high as a result of sneaking food, or not correcting when he should. I need some serious help. Tonight he told me at dinner that he was 237 so I had him correct and give a dinner bolus. Then three hrs later I go through his meter and it read HI, not 237. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve taken his cell phone away, I’ve tried to reward him for good control or for him doing what he knows he should be like testing before meals, etc. Nothing is working. His behavior is getting worse. I’m about to take him off the pump, I just don’t know what to do. He’s gone to diabetes camp for two summers now, a week each summer and he does great for a month or so after and then boom, back to old bad habbits. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.

I’m in my thirties now, but had the worst fights of my life with my Dad in my early teens over my blood sugars. He would become angry about me eating candy and having high blood sugars. My mother never judged me and would always approach my diabetes with sympathy and would help me try to get out of the situations I had put myself in. She also trusted me.

You need to begin fully handing the control of your son’s diabetes to your son and find a way to leave anger out of it. Being a diabetic is quite frustrating and sometimes unpredictable, and dealing with an angry person while your blood sugars are high is absolutely no fun.

As a fellow parent, you have my absolute empathy.

Well, first of all, try consulting the information at the Behavioral Diabetes Institute website. This center has helped many of our members.

Secondly, as a diabetic since age 10, I think you’re going about it in a way that is causing him more pain. I think it’s hard for parents, but you MUST separate punishment/reinforcement from his diabetes. Do not punish him for poor control or lying about his snacks the way you would punish for lying about homework. It’s a disease and it’s hard enough. He’s worried about being “blamed” for his blood sugars. He needs to know that his blood sugars and insulin reactions provoke no response from you other than to treat the blood sugar. It sounds to me like he’s in a spiral of mismanagement in order to feel in control - similar to how an anorexic uses eating habits to feel as though they’ve mastered their hunger. He would like to be good, sure, but it’s hard and he resents the help and intrusion. At this point, if he starts “behaving” and controlling his diabetes, he’s on some level submitting to someone else’s (your) will.

I think he would benefit from talking with a therapist or counselor when you and his doctor are NOT present. He needs a way to vent about his diabetes control without feeling like he has to defend himself.

And possibly, for a while, you should ask him to show you his meter after he looks at the number. Then give no indication of what the number means to you. Simply advise about what corrective measure he should take. That’s it. No lecture. Let him sneak the snack.

Nothing ticks me off more than when I have a high and my husband responds (innocently enough) with “what did you do?” If I’m already high (which, as I’m sure you know, causes one to be hyper-aggressive), I’m likely to kill him. Numbers should NEVER be associated with negative feeling - high or low. Separate it from emotion and you and your son can start to regain control without the resentment, self-destruction, and fear.

He actually started middle school this year, he’s in the 6th grade. So this is the first time he’s going to school with 3 other kids with diabetes. My brother is 33yrs old and he was dx’ed 3 yrs ago with type 1 but he isn’t exactly the best role model and it’s funny too because I see my son lecture my brother about how he needs to test more. So I know my son knows what he should be doing…why he isn’t doing it is beyond me. I know I need to leave the anger out of it, it’s so hard. I worked so hard to keep him healthy all these years and feel so let down now that he is doing such a poor job with is own management. I’ve talked with him many times of the consequences of his actions with poor control. Maybe he needs to see a therapist. I wish I had the answers…parenting alone is tricky with preteens but adding diabetes to the mix makes it so much harder. It also doesn’t help that my ex husband is awful with caring for my son every other weekend. He doesn’t re test my son after a high or low or check ketones when he should, figure carbs correctly, etc. I just want him to live a long and healthy life without all the complications that he risks developing if this behavior continues.
Thanks everyone so much for your kind words and advice!

Thank you so much for your advise. I’ll check that website out for sure. I understand that I need to put my own emotions in check, his doctor has told me this too and in front of my son. I admitted I was guilty for having a poor reaction to a high blood sugar and since his last appt a month ago, I have made such improvement with not reacting to a high blood sugar. But when I come home this afternoon from work and see a bottle of juice (baby Gerber pear juice actually…I have an 8month old) sitting on the table in the living room and so I ask who drank one of the baby’s juices? He says oh not me. So I ask my daughter, same response from her. So I go back to my son and tell him point blank, do not lie, you drank it, I don’t care, I just need to know if you bolused for it. He said yes he did. Well when I see his meter reading HI a few hrs later, I know he lied and never bolused for the juice. I just don’t get this type of behavior. He’s not hurting me, only himself. I ask him, doesn’t it make you feel awful to be so high? He says yes. But he continues to do it. I agree with you, he should speak to someone. I have a call in to the social worker at the childrens hospital where his endo is, hopefully she’ll be able to help.
But how long do I just let him continue to sneak his snacks before I punish him for it?

Do you think he’s competing for attention from the baby? Just a thought. They say even bad attention is attention.

I don’t think so. He loves the baby and is always first in line to help out with him. Gosh, who knows…maybe he is? lol

I don’t have an answer for you, Sarah, and I am so sorry that this is going on in your and your son’s life right now. But I will tell you that a few months of stolen snacks and high blood sugars, though of course undesirable, can be recovered from as long as he can avoid DKA or serious hospital stays. I’ll be the first to admit that that may be a reckless perspective, but it’s been my life experience after 18 and a half years with Type 1.

I had been a poster child juvenile diabetic as a child. But I had a rough time in college and in the years just after beginning my adult life. I was told I was going to lose my eyes. Now, a few years later, I am committed to control, have an excellent A1c, and monitor my blood sugars religiously. I had been such a compliant child diabetic for years, even as a preteen and teen, but college was my period of rebellion with my diabetes. I was fine everywhere else in my life, but I had checked out to a large degree from this because I resented how much work it took. It wasn’t until I met my husband and realized how the ups and downs were holding me back that I re-committed myself.

I would never suggest that anyone take a “diabetic vacation,” but nevertheless, I think we all take them. Maybe it’s tragic. But it’s a chronic condition and there are times he’s going to feel overwhelmed, different, or stressed. He’s known this life since age 2. But now he’s going into these middle school years and wants to be more like the other kids (whether he’ll admit it or not). (I teach 7th-12th grade, so I have decent experience with this age group.) He’s got hormonal changes, he’s coming home from school hungry, and he’s feeling like he’s not a kid anymore. Of course he’s going to sneak food. I am not a licensed therapist, but maybe you’ve got to find a way to allow him to sneak food without addressing it but ask him not to drink the baby’s juice if he’s going to choose a snack. Or heck, maybe he’s doing that because he resents that his siblings can have stuff he can’t or are getting attention he wants. I really think it would be worth it to get him someone unconnected to the family with whom he can speak about dealing with all of this.

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Melissa has made some excellent points, and hopefully you’ll get even more advice from those on the site who has dealt with this.

I’ve read on the CWD sites (and I highly recommend searching the forums and the “ask the diabetes team”) that they recommend that you take over all diabetes care. It gives him a break and you piece of mind.

I’m sorry you are going through this. It’s hard enough to care for my own diabetes. I can’t imagine caring for a child with diabetes. I have so much respect for parents of children with diabetes. My heart and prayers go out to you.

It’s worth a try for me to take some off his shoulders. I have been making him do his own site changes and he argues on/off about that with me. Other than that, I don’t know really what I can do because he’s doing this stuff like sneaking food and not bolusing before I get home from work. I just wish I could get through to him, that he can eat what he wants, heck he can drink the baby’s juice, I don’t care, he just needs to bolus for it. He has no limitations with eating as long as he boluses for it. I treat him as I do my other kids, no eating a half hr before dinner, that’s diabetes or not, it’s a house rule. I’m sure many moms have this same rule. :slight_smile: I’m going to sit him down again tomorrow. I feel bad for yelling at him and punishing him and for not trying to put myself in his shoes and understanding better how he feels to always have to be so diligent with testing. I’m here to help him and support him any way that I can, I just expect honesty and not just from him, but from all my kids.
I’m so happy to have found this site, I’ve gotten so much wonderful advice and so fast too. Thank you all so very much! ((((hugs))))


Yeah, we all lose our tempers sometimes and regret it later. It isn’t just that you lose it to lose it…you love him and are concerned. So, stop and give yourself a brief hug for now. Then go on to practice whatever behavior you wish to select. I’m not going to tell you how you should feel about his behavior. .

Have you tried a real scare tactic? Taken him to visit someone with the “consequences” of poor control? Telling him about some real person that gave no thought to the consequences until too late? Maybe if you make it more than theoretical and more real, it would give him pause. I don’t want to sound pompous, but I have a story that may help make it more real. If you wish to, I would be honored if you would go to my home page and read my profile. It’s one that I am hoping will touch others and influence them to have courage and work through their issues so that they won’t have to go through what I did. And, you know, it’s one that I have to keep reminding myself of in order to get through the rough periods.

I hope that you have success in reaching him in whatever way you can. God Bless your whole family!!

Lois La Rose
Milwaukee, WI

I know Melissa already suggested it, but I can’t recommend counseling enough. It’s hard to find a mental health care professional who’s knowledgeable about D, but talk to your son’s endo and health care team to see if they can recommend someone. You need someone objective to give you some guidance on managing how you respond to these behaviors, and your son clearly needs someone who isn’t going to judge him or punish him or get angry and frustrated with him.

Melissa already suggested BDI, but I know they’re accumulating a list of mental health service providers who specialize in the psychological issues that frequently go hand-in-hand with diabetes. Give them a call or email them to see if they can recommend someone in your general area.

You might also benefit from reading Diabetes Burnout by Wiliam Polonsky. He’s one of the doctors at BDI. It’s a great book that might give you some insight into why someone abandons diabetes management.

One last thought. Your comments about how you worked hard to teach him to do the right thing as far as his D care goes remind me of arguments I had with my mom when I was a teen. She took it very personally that she had put all that effort into taking care of me and my D and I was just squandering my health by not checking my BG’s or taking my insulin or eating properly. It was very counterproductive to lay that blame on my shoulders, as if I was doing something just for the sake of spiting her, because I already felt enormously guilty for just being a chronically ill kid that consumed so much of her time and energy. She should have gotten her own counseling apart from the counseling I got to deal with her grief and anger.

Hi, Sarah. No wonder you are frustrated.

Did you let your son read this? I think it might be good for him to read your words, which don’t come with a frustrated tone or sad expression or inevitable signs of disappointment.

I take very seriously his words that he lies about highs because you get upset when he’s high (of COURSE you do, 'cause you’re a smart parent, but it probably seems you’re mad at him, not the number, no matter how you try to explain).

Speaking as person who acted off-and-on similarly to your son in high school, and college, and even as a more mature adult, I hope you give yourself permission and your son permission to acknowledge that this is his disease.

Please understand that I admire and respect the care you’ve given him for so many years. And, of course, as a minor he’s your responsibility.

I’m sure he wouldn’t listen to me, either. Is there diabetes teen support group in your area?

A few highs here and there won’t hurt, especially if A1Cs are mostly excellent. Maybe you, he, and the doctor need to agree on a slightly higher A1C for a while. Or an occasional “diabetes vacation” day. (And I think parents should get a vacation, too!) The relentless need to monitor, eat right, blah blah blah gets unbearable sometimes.

To maintain lifelong control of diabetes, a person has to realize and acknowledge for himself that it’s important. A 12-year-old may need some time to work that out.

Hey, other parents of kids with diabetes and current and former diabetes kids–we’ve all been there, right?

Hi Sarah My son turned 13 yesterday. He is diabetic for nearly 7 years now, pumping for 1 years 4mnths. I’m in exactly the same position. He doesn’t bolus for what he eats. I feel like I’m nagging my head of. He just ignores some of my requests (not only regarding diabetes) I have to ask hundreds of times before he does something. Maybe this behaviour is normal for a child this age (?) and we are experiencing it worse because its affecting their health!!

AND I’m soooo tired of worrying (and of everything else)!!!

Something else when he was diagnosed the counselor said there would come a time when they will hate this diabetes thing extremely and they are going to imagine they don’t have it and ignore it. The bad thing is we worry ourselves sick because we know that diabetes doesn’t take a break!!
Let’s just hope this phase passes quicly!! (Ns. His latest A1C was 9.7 :frowning: )

Now I’m feeling guilty about my own teen years and all the times I frustrated my mom with my lack of diabetes care. Sorry, mom! Thanks for putting up with the high A1Cs, the faked glucose logs (use various ink colors and smear some blood on the pages for authenticity), the mood swings. Mom, you did a good job and I’m sure I never showed a bit of appreciation.

Thanks you give me hope that this will end and that some day he will start looking after himself!!!

hello my name is senna, i av been in ur son situation. There was a point in my life about 3 years a go i was lieing about my blood sugars and sneaking food. It didnt feel great doing it but my parents would argue with me when i had high or low blood sugars ands that was the reason why. I personally feel you need there might be need to talk to him more or encourage him to talk to you. When i first got diabetes i didnt feel like i could go to my parents, but eventually after lieing about my blood sugars for a couple of months i decided to go to my parents and they didnt react like they normally do, and now we have built this great relationship and i know i can go to them in any situation. No matter how good anyone is with there diabetes, we always have periods of time where things do collapse a bit. i hope you and your son can sort this out, because even though us teenagers dont show we really do appreciate our parents.
hope this helps Senna.

You are wise beyond your years!

Thank you :slight_smile: I have decided that today, after school he and I will sit down. We’ll wipe the slate clean. First, I’m going to apologize for all the years of tough love saying, “ok, you have Diabetes, you have to deal with it, someone else out there has a far worse disease that they cannot control”. That was wrong of me. When he was diagnosed, I never cried, I hugged him so tight and I prayed to God that he’d help me protect my son and allow him to have a full healthy life. I tried to teach my son that yes he has diabetes, but diabetes does not have him. But I never put myself in his shoes. I never took a day to test myself 10-12 times, to try and imagine how terrible his body feels when he’s low or high, to worry about running low if I run outside and play with my friends, to only be able to have one slice of cake at a birthday party, or no cake if I had a high blood sugar…the list goes on and on. My goodness, my son is wonderful. He truly is, he is so handsome, smart, kind and caring, he has a huge heart and is always more worried about everyone else than himself. I used to say to him that I wish I could take diabetes away from him and give it to me, that I pray for that everyday and he’d reply saying, “No Mom, no, I don’t want you to ever have this”. Breaks my heart.
I’m going to sit him down and ask him if he understands how serious of a disease this is and how poor control will hurt him later in life. I’m going to ask him what I can do to take some of the “diabetes” burden off of his shoulders. How can I support him and make it even a little easier on him. No more punishments, no more saying, “What? You’re 357??? What did you eat? Did you not bolus?” I’m going to accept his blood sugar result, no matter if it’s low or high and together we will fix them, one by one.
I will say this though. My son was dx’ed on 3-15-99, that day I’ll never forget. He lost a part of his childhood that day, the innocense of just being a kid. Every year on that day, instead of thinking about it as a negative, as “D” day… instead we have always celebrated this day. I have always told him that this day is for him, for being so strong, so brave and that is a day that we do something fun as a family or just he and I, whichever he chooses. He gets to stay home from school on that day, we go out to eat where ever he wants, he eats whatever he wants…he’s even had dessert before dinner :slight_smile:
I hope that after we talk this afternoon, things start to change for the better. I’m going to think positive, so yes, things will change!
Thank you all so very much xoxoxox

I must admit, I went through a similar phase to your son in my early teens. I sneaked sweets-a-plenty and didn’t increase my dose to cope with them, made up blood test results to show my doctor (which, thinking back now the doctor MUST have known were all lies due to my high A1c!!!) and generally acted like I didn’t have diabetes (other than still taking my normal insulin dose). I think it was just me trying to experience what it would be like to not have to worry about anything and like others have said, I reckon I was just wanting to be “normal” and fit in with people at school etc. It didn’t last long though and I soon started eating properly again and looking after myself when I got sick of eating sweets!

That was about 20 years ago (I’ve been Type 1 since age 3 diagnosed in 1979) and I don’t have any complications - I don’t know whether that’s due to luck or me taking care (I haven’t been the “perfect diabetic” at all during those years, getting much tighter control only in the last year or so).

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, don’t worry about a few high A1cs - as long as it doesn’t continue for a long time he should be fine. Just try to listen to him rather than dictating what he should be doing too much - he’ll likely grow out of this phase naturally.