Back-to-School means textbooks, stationery, new uniforms and new teachers. For kids with diabetes and their parents, these typical back-to-school preparations are just the beginning.
Initially on diagnosis you will or would have probably met with your child’s diabetes care educator and the school staff.
Below are some helpful tips that you can use to make sure your child stays safe and happy at school:
Have a Diabetes Management Plan1
Work with your diabetes care educator or health care provider to create a plan that spells out your child's school diabetes care regimen. Be sure to include things like:
• What are the child’s typical symptoms of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar? Include the symptoms of each and the consequences of your child’s blood sugar going too low or too high.
• If your child does go into a hypoglycaemic state, how should it be treated? Detail various options and quantities that should be consumed of carbohydrate rich foods like glucose tablets, fruit juices and glucagon injections. Give examples of specific snacks that your child may have to treat low blood sugar and be sure to state if or not your child can inject themselves with insulin or if this should be administered by the school nurse or class teacher.
• Finally meet with the school – it is helpful to meet with the principal, your child’s teacher and the school nurse to discuss and review the plan and ensure all are comfortable should it need to be implemented.
Build up your child's confidence and transition the self-care2
As they grow, kids will probably get better at recognising the signs of low blood sugar and, by 8 or 10, they may be able to monitor their own blood glucose levels.
They can also start weighing in on healthy food choices. They may be able to give an injection, although they may not be able to draw up insulin until they're 10 or 11 years old.
2Send positive messages. If your child feels guilty about "bad" blood sugar levels, their confidence will suffer. Instead, don't talk about good and bad results. Think in terms of high, low and normal - with no judgment attached.3
Listen and reassure
The start of school can be an emotional time for a child. Reassure your child that you've met with the school and that they are safe. Try to help achieve normalcy. Remember that your child is a child first, and a person with diabetes second.
Help them feel like the rest of the kids. Before birthday parties, for example, talk to the doctor about whether cake and ice cream might be okay - maybe extra insulin or exercise can help cover the additional carbohydrates. Or offer to bring a diabetes-friendly dessert to the party. That way, your child won't feel left out of the festivities.
Someday, all diabetes self-care responsibilities will be in your child's hands. Helping them learn how to manage their blood sugar in positive, effective ways is a great gift you can give them.
For more information please contact your healthcare professional.
1American Diabetes Association Back-to-School Webinar. Keeping Kids with Diabetes Safe at School. Accessed December 12, 2017.
2Chase PH. Responsibilities of children at different ages. In: Understanding Diabetes. 11th ed. Denver, CO: University of Colorado Denver; 2006. Available at: http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/centers/Barbara.... Accessed April 28, 2016.
3Polonsky WH. Diabetes Burnout: What to Do When You Can't Take It Anymore. Alexandria, VA: American Diabetes Association; 1999.
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