Children and Type 2 diabetes: how to help your child stay healthy

If your child has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you’re probably very busy learning and discovering the many ways to help manage and control this condition. Working together with your child, you can keep their blood glucose levels stable and develop strategies for healthy living that work for you, your child and your family.

Here are some steps you can take to help your child live a healthy life with diabetes1:

  • Do what you can to enable them to maintain a normal body weight. Diabetes can affect weight, and weight can affect diabetes, so it’s important to do what you can to help you child maintain a healthy weight. Keep healthy snacks handy, get out for fun physical activity together like playing at the park or going for a nature walk and make sure your child isn’t skipping insulin to help lose weight (something teens may be prone to trying if they are unhappy with their body image). OnTrack Diabetes has some great healthy snack ideas, but always make sure to follow your child’s nutrition plan as provided by their doctor or diabetes team.
  • Monitor their blood sugar levels regularly. Even if your child is capable of checking their blood sugar on their own, make sure they log the results regularly so you can keep on top of the numbers and see if there are any concerning trends you should be speaking to their doctor about.
  • Make sure they are following the diet as prescribed by your care team. It can be tough for kids to have to stick to a strict diet when their friends are able to eat whatever they want. To emphasize the importance of diet, it can help to explain to kids that in many ways, food is medicine for them. Remind your child that they’ll feel better and stay healthy if they follow their diet. If your child is really struggling, talk to their care team for new meal and snack ideas to help keep things interesting.
  • Make sure your child is taking insulin or other prescribed medications regularly. Diabetes control depends upon vigilance and sticking to a schedule. If your child is young and you are administering medication, make sure you know when the doses must be given. If your child is older and can handle this on their own, check in regularly to make sure they are managing well.
  • Work closely with your child’s doctors and diabetes care team to get the best possible diabetes control. Be your child’s advocate by asking questions, checking in when you have any concerns, learning as much as you can and following diet, medication and exercise recommendations closely.  
  • Watch for signs of complications and other diabetes-related health issues. The signs and symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)2 may include:
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Sweating
    • Whiteness of skin
    • Anxiety
    • Numbness in fingers, toes and lips
    • Sleepiness
    • Confusion
    • Headaches
    • Slurred speech

Symptoms of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) may include frequent urination and increased thirst.3 Talk to your child’s doctor about other signs and symptoms you should be watching for.

  • Model healthy living. Eat healthy food, get regular exercise, schedule your own medical check-ups and stick to a regular sleep schedule so that your child sees that you’re taking care of yourself too and understands the importance of these good habits.
  • Get your child involved in their own care. This is a life-long condition, so your child needs to know how to take care of themselves and to understand that when mom or dad aren’t around, it’s their responsibility to do so. 

For more resources and helpful information including nutrition, recipes and exercise tips for children living with diabetes, visit KidsHealth.

SOURCES

1 https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/type2.html

2 https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-2-diabetes/type-2-diabetes-complications

3 https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/medication-management/blood-glucose-testing-and-control/hyperglycemia

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