Newly diagnosed child with major attitude!

My 8 year old was diagnosed with type 1 in January. She did not take it well and nothing has changed. I am at my wits end of trying to figure out how to help her cope with this. I have tried EVERYTHING and it breaks my heart for her. I have listened when she wants to vent without saying a word. When that doesn’t work, I have showed her videos of people with type 1 such as Joe Jonas which she likes. I do anything to make her better. We even bought a rabbit for her. I took her to counseling. We got her a pump. She has got to the point where she is very mean to me when she talks and to tell the truth I let her because I know she is angry about the situation. The bad thing about it is I also have a 12 year old who is being hateful because she sees her sister being allowed to do. Needless to say I am mentally exhausted and feel helpless. I’m actually crying right now. How do I make her feel better? I can’t keep letting the yelling and disrespect go uncorrected, but I know she is still grieving as well.

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Do you know if there is a diabetes camp nearby? Or ask teachers or call ADA or JDRF to check if they know of other parents with similar situation/experience to contact and get support.

Would going back to counseling help? Or Did they offer any coping suggestions? I was 5 when diagnosed, but that was 55+ years ago, so treatment was simpler. But still remember Halloween being the worst holiday, and restrictions of sweets. I later went through a “why me” phase, as it was 20+ years before meeting another T1D.

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What does she like to do? What are her interests or hobbies?

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You may already be doing this, but it’s important to acknowledge her feelings. Just saying, “yes, you’re right, this really stinks” and giving her the chance to cry without trying to make her feel better…just being there for her while she lets her feelings out. Kids have a hard time expressing their anger, and sometimes it comes out in a form that isn’t helpful, but teaching her that it’s absolutely okay to be angry for a while is important…then maybe you can start figuring out what will help her accept this. But…let her express her anger first without trying to mitigate or deny her feelings.

I feel for both of you…tough situation.

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Thank you all, it is very tough. I wish I could trade with her in a heart beat I would. As for her interest, she loves animals. And I will definitely check out diabetes camp, but she is so angry she doesn’t even like the word anymore and being associated with it. I am trying everything. Again thank you

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Have you considered a diabetes alert dog ?

@Terry4 has one, but now retired (both Terry and Norm). He could provide more details on his experience.

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I think one of the best things is for her to embrace her passion for whatever she loves to do, or whatever interest she has. Eventually she will come to the realization that diabetes won’t stop her from following her passion.

And by taking care of the diabetes and by managing it, that will enable her to better pursue what she loves to do.

It’s tough to accept. Especially at such a young age. It takes time.

I was diagnosed at 6. My parents made sure I could do the things I would do normally. I ate what I would normally eat. I just took the right amount of insulin for it.

I’d be happy to talk with you if you’d like.

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I think you need to draw a line. She is upset about her condition, yes. But she is using it to control you and allows her to act out without any consequence.

I suggest you try being more firm.
Say things like “ I know you are upset by this, but even diabetic kids need to be respectful”

“ even diabetic kids get consequences for being mean”

It’s important to recognize her anger and validate it and also draw a line so she understands that she still has limits.

I don’t have a diabetic kid, but I have a kid and kids really want to have limits and they want clear limits with sensible consequences.

They will still break rules but they will know under stand the risks of breaking the rules. Meaning you get in trouble for acting out. No matter what else you are dealing with.

She will need to learn this in the real world. No one is going to put up with that, better she learns it at home while she is young.

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Thank you all! Many things I needed to hear!

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This is exactly what a counselor told me many years ago when our then-teenage daughter was directing her anger on me.

Her anger may also be covering for her fears about learning to manage her diabetes, experiencing scary lows or frustrating highs, being different than other kids, and even blaming herself (“why me?”).

As an adult-onset PWD, I struggled with all these things and finding sites like this—people like me—has helped me immensely. Perhaps your endo clinic offers a parent support group?

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You’ll find many of us here can relate to this all too well. I was diagnosed when I was 8, too. I absolutely remember the anger, depression, and “why me???”. I know now that I imagined the worst of it up in my head, but I sure didn’t know that then. And things that seem so ridiculously petty to me now were positively EARTH SHATTERING back then. Like, I was super depressed over the idea of never being allowed to go to a birthday party again, because I can’t eat pizza or cake anymore… Even though absolutely nobody ever said those words to me. And I didn’t want a life of shots and needles. It was just too much.

But eventually life moved on. It became bearable. And then without me noticing, it became really good again. The dark days passed. And I promise, they will.

What about yourself? Have you taken steps to improve your own mental health? I know that might seem selfish right now, but children are very intuitive. She may be learning from your own example that everything has fallen apart. What she really needs is normalcy, and to eventually see that there’s still joy in this normal life, diabetes or not. Which means you also need to find the joy in life again, and show that.

And it may not just be your example. How many other people are treating her different now? Are they showing her pity or fear? What about the other children she’s around? Has anyone had an open/honest conversation with them about what this changes and what it doesn’t? It’s possible they may be imaging things that’s aren’t true. Children don’t have filters! What about possible sibling rivalry/lashing out? Could the sibling be saying or doing things to worsen the situation because of jealousy, lack of attention, or other emotions they don’t know how to deal with? Is she being bullied at home or school because of this? (I was, what felt like terribly so, and my parents never knew.) How often is she being told she can’t do things now because she’s diabetic? Is she living a different life this summer than her previous years? Is she not allowed to play and participate in fun stuff anymore because she’s suddenly treated like a liability?

Yes, a few things have to change. Your child has a very different concept of time and what’s important in life than you do, though. All she knows is that now everyone’s all up in her business, she’s lost any sense of bodily autonomy she had before, she’s facing a life of bloodletting and being stabbed, and her favorite things now being off-limits (real or imagined)… And when you’re only 8 (and you think 18 year olds are old and your parents are ANCIENT), it’s probably feeling like a miserable eternity ahead of her,

It’s time to get on with living a good life, though, and you and everyone else in her life need to lead by example. This is an incredible time to be diagnosed with diabetes. There are literally no limits anymore! The understanding, technology and medical advancements have made it so that we can successfully live outstanding lives… longer and healthier even than our non-diabetic counterparts. Everyone around her needs to understand that this isn’t a bad thing, and that she can still do absolutely anything… It just takes a little extra awareness. Go ahead and let her hear it, too, until it starts to sink in. “Please don’t speak to her with pity. There’s absolutely no need. She’s going to live an awesome life! We’ve got this…”

She’s old enough to start making some decisions for herself, and throwing her that bone will go far. I highly recommend you sit down and have a conversation with her. Something along the lines of: “I’m tired of feeling mad and sad all the time, how about you? I don’t think it has to be this way. I think we can be happy, just like before… Let’s come up with a plan.”

Ask her what scares her, what is she afraid of missing out on? What does she miss from before she was diagnosed? Make a plan to null those fears. (With children, it’s often related to forced dietary changes. It’s why I detest forced low-carbing on children. It’s different for an adult diabetic to choose that for themselves.)

Ask her about all her favorites. It’s a good way to focus the conversation on happy thoughts. Don’t just assume you know the answer, but let her ramble on about all the good stuff. What are her favorite things to eat? Things to do? Games to play? Shows to watch? Places to go? Subjects in school? People to spend time with? Make an absolute point to tell her “you/we can do that!” or “that sounds like an excellent reward for really good behavior!”, and if she comes up with something crazy that really isn’t doable or you don’t know how to handle yet, don’t just shoot her down but say something closer to “we’ll have to work up to that” or “we can learn more about that”. What are her dreams for the future? Don’t be surprised if the answer is “a cure for diabetes!”, so have a plan to answer that. Maybe it means getting involved in some of the fundraising events, which are actually quite fun. JDRF does a lot, like Walk to Cure Diabetes. I grew up in Cleveland, and the location was always inside the zoo. So we’d spend a few hours walking around the zoo, which I loved anyway, and then there was a giant party at the end! And I got to feel like I was doing something proactive to fix this, even if the reality was that my only contribution was a few dollars pledged by my parents and grandparents. Maybe it sparks an interest in science so she can help find a cure herself. I was given a Grey’s Anatomy (academia, nothing to do with the show) coloring book for adults when I was in the hospital. It sparked a curiosity in my own broken physiology and definitely contributed to my career in medical research down the road. Maybe she’d like to participate in a clinical research trial herself? There are LOTS for newly diagnosed children right now, as reversing and/or slowing down diabetes progression while there are still functioning beta cells is a hot cure topic right now. Giving her the options and potential to make a difference, even at her age, can be really empowering so she’s not just feeling like a victim of sucky circumstances anymore.

And then the more difficult talk… Explain that it’s okay to mad, but it’s time to express it a better, constructive way. That disrespect and being mean isn’t the way to do it and that it can’t continue. Come up with a plan for her to vent that anger in a better way. Does she need a punching bag so she has something to hit? Or maybe even a sport where she can hit things, like archery (my own choice at 8, it seemed dangerous and exciting, but really isn’t), soccer, bowling, baseball, etc… Heck, you could even do a smash room type of thing, by giving her a few dollars to spend at a thrift store, a big box, safety glasses/gloves, and a hammer. What about designating a time and place she can say all the bad words she knows with abandon and without punishment? But ONLY at the designated times, or if she asks for permission first, or something. Or a journal she can write them in, along with any other thoughts she wants to get out. Promise her that’s her private safe place to vent, and respect that, but ask occasionally if there’s anything in there she’d like to share. Sometimes we all feel the need to tell the world to go f- itself! Does she need to scream her lungs out, instead? Figure out a time/place she can do that. Ear plugs hardly cost a thing. Does she need something cuddly to soothe her? Maybe it’s time for a new pet, or similar distraction. Maybe she could volunteer at an animal shelter and spend time with lots of animals. Do you have a local zoo? They always have children’s programs. Whatever you decide, make sure to include the sibling, or give them similar options. Their anger matters, too.

You’ll notice lots of talk about doing stuff. If she’s busy and distracted, and especially busy and distracted while having fun, there’s less time to think about what’s actually making her mad/sad and more time spent moving on.

YES!! This is the absolute single best thing my parents ever did for me. Or at least the one thing I value most and can really say changed my perspective on life and my future. Summer camp was my chance to be a 100% normal kid, surrounded by people just like me. My chance to make friends I could really connect with. A chance where nobody told me, “you can’t do that”. In fact, we did so much!
Mud hikes in the rain, horseback riding, marksmanship and archery lessons, high obstacle ropes course, swimming, boating, field trips to go roller skating with a stop off for ice cream on the way back to camp, and another field trip to an amusement park, campfires with s’mores, singing in the “squirrel cage”, etc… 30 years later, I still remember the camp director vividly, and the stories of his adventures and all he’d accomplished with Type 1, like backpacking the Application Trial, which he inspired me to do as well. And I still remember every word of the camp song, which still pops in my head from time to time.

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Depending on where you live, you may want to contact the Joslin Diabetes Clinic as they have a huge section of the clinic devoted to juvenile diabetes, so they have seen and experienced and dealt with it all. They have a few centers around the US. If you are not within driving distance, they may still have suggestions for you and maybe can even counsel over telehealth sessions with you and/or your daughter. They are big into telehealth since Covid.

In the meantime, our thoughts are with you, and please keep coming back to this post as many people in similar circumstances will chime in and it is only a matter of time before something clicks and is valuable for you and your child.

Best wishes!!!

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And you inspire the rest of us.

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I forgot, I wanted to share a YouTube link. This is two diabetic girls/best-friends, one of whom is local to me. They met at summer camp, by the way! There aren’t a lot of videos, but your daughter will probably find them relatable. They’re teenagers now, but really living good, active lives.

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Oh my goodness! Thank you for this!! Everything you said makes so much sense and it’s good to hear it coming from the space that she is in now to where you have been. Thank you, thank you!

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This thread is generating a lot of great advice.

My two cents:

I would slightly reframe that. Maybe she’s being difficult because she wants the attention her sister is getting…or something else…but I don’t think anyone wants to be allowed to be hateful. It’s no fun! For them, for you, for anyone. Your older daughter might need some extra attention even though I can imagine that might be asking an awful lot during this crisis for your family.

It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. You’re listening. You’re finding videos that interest Chloe to do with diabetes. You’re doing everything you can to make things easier and get her the right care. But it still won’t be easy for her (or you)…and acknowledging that isn’t pity. It’s reality.

I guess I’d like to underline Robyn’s comment. Preserving her beta cells while she still has them sounds exciting to me. But, if because of time/where you live/human bandwidth a clinical trial isn’t practical, then definitely don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re doing a lot!

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Therapy. Look for a diabetes specialist at a university hospital nearby.

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I really don’t remember back when I was diagnosed at 8 having problems with it. My parents told me this is what it is and here is what you have to do and they were always there for me.
I did not and would not do my own injections! That was my biggest problem! Nothing anyone could say or do was getting to move on that.
So that summer, I was sent to our local diabetes camp, kicking and screaming. But the funny thing about camp. It’s so much fun. And I was the only person out of the 100 kids there that couldn’t give myself an injections. Peer pressure worked very well here and in a matter of 2 days, I was on my own. It was also very enlightening to see so many others living well and were all happy while having diabetes.
My diagnosis was back in the early 1970’s so things were a lot different. But I just always remember my parents telling me that this was my disease and I had to manage it for the rest of my life. Of course they were there every step of the way. But I did most everything except cooking and of course medical/insurance stuff.
I think holding your line here is a must. She needs to understand that she has to get a handle on this. And continue to show her people that are living fun and successful lives with their medical conditions. There is no easy answer here but I do remember watching another camper that first summer(I went for 3 summers) have a low blood sugar seizure. So very, very scary and gave me an eye opening experience to what could happen and what my parents went through when I had them. (A much different story nowadays with blood testing and CGMs!)
Unfortunately your story is the same most every parent has with their children at some point. But I have always believed that we are the adults and we are the ones who must control the chaos! I had these same problems with one of my kids that had autistic problems which also caused problems with my other child. Everything and everyone is connected.
Get help for yourself and your family if that is needed. Getting someone who can help is not a failure, that is being smart knowing you all need help.
Good luck and thanks you for being that very caring and supportive parent.

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Thank you! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Just one thing to add—Nick Jonas, not Joe. :wink:

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