If your child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a young child, there was a lot for you to manage on a daily basis. Teenagers with type 1 diabetes should begin taking responsibility for diabetes management. The transition of responsibility during the teen years prepares your child to step out into the world as a confident adult.
What Activities are Appropriate to Share:
- Teen Years: Important developmental achievements for teenagers are independence and self-confidence. In addition to basic care tasks, teens can give their own injections, change their own pump/CGM sites, make decisions about food, count carbs, and calculate insulin doses. The teenage years present an opportunity to work with your teen on advanced skills, such as uploading data to share with their diabetes care team, reviewing BG data to identify changes that may be required, knowing the protocol for monitoring ketones, and knowing when to call for help. The conversation at clinic visits should be between the diabetes care team and your teen.
- Young Adult Years: Young adults with type 1 diabetes should be self-sufficient in diabetes care. They should begin to order their own supplies, set their own doctor’s appointments and deal with insurance. However, they will likely still depend on you for emotional support related to diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is often misunderstood and you may be the only person who truly understands them. When your young adult reaches out to you with his concerns, don’t feel like you have to offer advice. Often a sympathetic ear is the best medicine. Finally, your child will still need extra care and support during any illness or hospitalization.
Keep in mind that every child is different. Ask your young adult how, and how much, they’d like you to be involved. Offer to attend clinic visits with them, and be available if they take you up on the offer. Your role in your adult child’s diabetes is new to you, but equally as important as when you checked every blood glucose and changed every pump site. Never underestimate how relieved your child will feel to know you are in their corner, and when they need support and possibly advice, you will be there to provide it.
- Diabetes Empowerment Foundation: Tips for Caring for a Teen with Type 1 Diabetes.
- Responsibility Sharing between Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes and Their Caregivers: Importance of Adolescent Perceptions on Diabetes Management and Control