How to Support Teenagers With Diabetes

Adolescence is a time when teenagers want to be self-sufficient and independent, but having diabetes can sometimes be an impediment to achieving this.

Supporting young people during this time can help them work through the challenges associated with the disease, while empowering them to learn healthy habits for life.

As a parent, here are a few ways you can help:

1.Help foster spontaneity with limits.

Teenagers often have the desire to be spontaneous, which helps them assert their independence. However, teens with diabetes need to learn how to be spontaneous within reason. Does your teen fully understand how to control her diabetes? If not, communicate that you will be comfortable giving her the freedom she desires if she proves that she can manage her condition properly.

2. Encourage self-mastery through control.

One positive aspect of having diabetes is that it may help teens understand how to exercise control over their lives. You can help your teen recognize how discipline can lead to strength and mastery in other areas - like school, career goals, or sports.

Tracking progress in blood sugar control , weight management or other areas might also help your teen to recognize and celebrate successes.

3. Have dialogue about body image.

Both male and female adolescents already tend to struggle with body image concerns, but teens with diabetes may find this a more challenging area to navigate. Having a health condition might make them feel isolated or different from their peers, imperfect, handicapped or less attractive in some way. Support your teen by giving them positive reinforcement about not just their looks, but their positive non-physical qualities, too.

Getting involved with support groups can also help both you and your teen keep the lines of communication open.

If you think your child might be in serious trouble, however, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor or to seek other professional help.

Source: JDRF

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