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What Life is Like for a Kid with Diabetes

If your child has been recently diagnosed with diabetes, you may have some concerns about how it will affect his or her childhood. What may surprise you to learn is that kids with diabetes can do everything regular kids do, and live a normal, active life – they just have to be more careful about planning their daily activities.

According to Debbie Butler, L.I.C.S.W., C.D.E., Clinical Social Worker in Pediatrics and Behavioral and Mental Health, Joslin Diabetes Center, “Children with diabetes should be able to do all of the activities that they would have done if they were not diagnosed with diabetes.  It is our job as healthcare providers to adjust your child’s diabetes management plan around your child’s daily routine.”

A common misconception is that kids with diabetes can’t eat anything with sugar, including things like birthday cake, cookies, and ice cream.  The truth is that kids can eat these foods in moderation; they just need to carefully plan what else they eat that day, and adjust insulin doses accordingly.  A healthy meal plan for a child with diabetes is actually the same for a child without diabetes.

Kids can also play sports and take part in physical activities just like other children. Once again, you just need to plan – first talking with their doctor, and then learning the routine of glucose testing, planned eating, and insulin, that works best for them.

Of course children, can’t, and shouldn’t, be dealing with their diabetes alone. Diabetes affects the whole family, and it’s very important that all members of the family take an active role in your child’s diabetes. “One of the most important things parents can do to help their child with their diabetes is to continue to stay involved with day to day management tasks and find ways to work together as a team with your child,” Butler states.

It may seem overwhelming now, but diabetes care will quickly become part of your child’s everyday routine.

Page last updated: September 18, 2019