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Parenting a child with type 1 diabetes for the past five years has been challenging, but with the right approach and support, it has become a manageable experience. As a parent, my priority has always been caring for my daughter's health and ensuring we manage her condition effectively. Along the way, I've also gained some valuable insights.

1. Make time for activities you enjoy

I faced many obstacles in the early years following my daughter's diagnosis. The abundance of information and the struggle with blood sugar fluctuations were overwhelming. However, as time went on, I've learned to accept that type 1 diabetes is demanding and to be understanding with myself when things are beyond my control. One important lesson I've learned is the value of making time for activities I enjoy. These moments of relaxation and happiness help me recharge, which allows me to create a supportive environment for my daughter's well-being and growth. Just remember that you're doing your best, and by being kind to yourself and finding a bit of personal time, you can overcome challenges and keep your child's health a priority.

2. Find your community 

Another valuable tool is understanding that connecting with fellow parents in similar situations can be helpful. Look for local or online support groups for parents and guardians of children with type 1 diabetes. These groups offer a comfortable space to discuss concerns, ask questions, and learn from others who've faced similar challenges. Plus, you can build a network of supportive individuals who can provide emotional help and encouragement when things get tough.

3. Get your child involved

My next tip is to involve your child in their daily care. While caregivers take on most of the responsibilities initially and usually until the child reaches high school, it's crucial to get them interested in understanding type 1 diabetes and participating actively. After Lainey’s diagnosis at age ten, I was her primary caregiver, so I made decisions and assisted with all aspects of care. We set up a weekly check-in to discuss how things were going, encouraging Lainey to share her thoughts and feelings about her condition and anything else. 

Tailor your approach to your child’s age and maturity level, and involve them in discussions regarding their treatment plan and daily routines. Encourage your child to communicate openly about their feelings, fears, and desires, so you can work together to find practical solutions for various situations. Educate them about tasks like blood glucose monitoring, insulin administration, and identifying signs of high and low blood sugar levels. This strategy can help your child develop a sense of responsibility and control early on and help later when they take over more of their care. 

4. Let your child enjoy childhood

Despite the complexities of type 1 diabetes, I've also made it a point to encourage my daughter to enjoy her childhood fully. Yes, diabetes requires constant attention, but it shouldn't overshadow her happiness and the experiences that come with being a child. We find a balance by ensuring she can participate in activities she loves while managing her diabetes effectively. Proper planning and communication allow us to adjust her activities to fit her diabetes requirements.

5. Let your child enjoy their favorite food

My last tip is to allow your kids to enjoy their favorite foods. Striking a balance between a healthy diet and occasional treats is key for managing diabetes. We wanted Lainey to feel free to eat what she liked without worry so she would have a positive relationship with food. We also taught her how to count the carbs in her food and how different foods affect her blood sugar levels. This way, she can choose what to eat wisely. If you find it challenging to navigate the various aspects of nutrition and diabetes, consider requesting a conversation with a nutritionist during your child's endocrinology appointment.

Learn more: Lainey's Type 1 Diabetes Adventures

Beth Buttery shares her daughter's type 1 diabetes diagnosis, what inspired her to write the book series, Lainey’s Type 1 Diabetes Adventures, and some tips for caregivers of kids with type 1 diabetes. 

Navigating parenting a child with type 1 diabetes can be a demanding endeavor. However, armed with the proper knowledge and strategies, the journey is manageable. By prioritizing your child's well-being while recognizing their individuality beyond their condition, seeking support from healthcare professionals and communities, fostering their independence, and encouraging them to savor their childhood experiences, you are laying the foundation for a positive and resilient future. Remember, each child's diabetes journey is unique. With dedication, empathy, and a well-informed approach, you can empower your child to thrive and live life to the fullest while effectively managing their diabetes.

About the author

Beth Buttery

Beth Buttery

Children's Book Author & Advocate for Type 1 Diabetes

Beth Buttery is a passionate mom and dedicated advocate for type 1 diabetes. As a writer and editor, she has poured her heart and creativity into crafting captivating stories that educate and entertain readers of all ages. Her pride and joy, The “Lainey’s Type 1 Diabetes Adventures” series, brings the world of a young girl living with type 1 diabetes to life, fostering empathy and understanding among young readers.