Growth and development when a child has diabetes

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Find out what it's like for a child with diabetes to adjust to different challenges of managing the condition at different ages and stages.

Key points

  • Diabetes care will change depending on your child's age and lifestyle. Both of these things must be factored in to a diabetes management plan.

Each age and stage of life has a different set of challenges. A chronic disorder brings additional challenges. It might seem that as soon as your family has found ways to negotiate the rocky course of one stage of development, the next stage has arrived.

For example, parenting an infant or toddler can be much different from parenting a school-aged child. Likewise, being a teenager with diabetes is different from being nine or 10 years old and living with the disorder. As teenagers reach adulthood, they are faced with new issues that further affect their diabetes care.

Your family and the diabetes team​ can both help smooth your child’s road to adulthood by helping your child develop a strong sense of identity and self-worth and empowering them to take responsibility for their diabetes management.

Lisa’s story: Adjusting to new realities

Lisa is a typical 12-year-old. Being with friends is the most important thing in her life. She and three other girls spend almost every waking hour together, talking about boys and trying new hair styles. Lisa likes her friends and cares what they think. They know she has diabetes but Lisa wants them to know she can do everything they can. This is a good attitude on Lisa’s part, but it could get her in trouble.

One day at school Lisa was so caught up in hanging out with her friends that she forgot she needed to go home for her afternoon snack. By 4:30 she felt shaky, hungry and a little dizzy. Fortunately one of her friends had a little candy that she gave Lisa, and after a few minutes, Lisa felt better.

Lisa’s mom was upset when she found out, but she understood Lisa wanting to stay with her friends. So they changed Lisa’s routine and made a deal: From now on Lisa will always carry an extra snack with her, in case she is going to be late.

Last updated: September 25th 2017