Best Ways to Help our Type 1 Kids with their Struggles

Our Type Kids are so brave, so strong and hold their heads up and just get on with it. We as parents do much the same and take each day in our strides.

Sometimes though, it all gets a bit too much, for us and them.

Having just passed our 7 year olds 3 year diaversary, I shared a little in my last post:

3 years brave

It talks about how far we have come as a family living with Type 1 diabetes.

This week, we have experienced life from a slightly different perspective in that it has been a difficult week. Our daughter has found it a bit tough and I have found it challenging to parent well through it.

Parenting Difficulties

We all have days when its hard to stay positive and focused. Our child may not want another injection or in our case a cannula changed, they may not want their CGM sensor fitted or sometimes removed (this hurts too!) or perhaps they don’t want to test their bloods AGAIN or to eat that meal that we have already bolused insulin for. Each of which poses a challenge to how we deal with it.

Parenting is a difficult task at the best of times. Throw Type 1 in the mix, with the ups and downs of blood sugars and the effect that has on mood, tiredness on both parts and it brings an additional strand to parenting that tests us to our limits. It often leaves us worrying whether we have dealt with things in the right way and how that will affect our child both now and in the future.

We all want the best for our children but when you have to complete various medical procedures such as cannula changes, injections, sensor insertions, all of which are invasive and normally in sensitive areas, it can be hard, extremely hard to play the role of nurse and parent. To remain loving, kind, gentle and patient can sometimes seem impossible.

Or perhaps when your child objects and lets their raw emotions about by saying things like “you are being mean”, “you are horrible”, “why are you doing this to me?”, “why are you hurting me?”. These words go deep and they can hurt.

We are doing the things they NEED to stay ALIVE on a daily basis. Sometimes they realise that and other times they forget, which is totally fine and we understand. In the short term, for that moment they may even feel like we don’t love them and we desperately want them to know that they are loved through it all.

We all do the best we can. There is no right and wrong but I wanted to share some of the things I do, or try to remember to do that sometimes help (and sometimes nothing helps) in the heat of the moment. These work particularly well for younger children. I’m probably no help when it comes to teenagers yet I’m afraid but it is a different type of care for them I suppose. I then want to invite you to share any tips you may have aswell for dealing with the trials we have talked about. Sharing is caring and I believe we can help each other because that’s what its all about being on this journey together.

Strategy for Helping our Kids be Brave

1.Preparation

Give the child notice that in 10 minutes you are going to come and change the cannula or give the injection. We have all done it when we are rushed off our feet and suddenly we march in and we need to do it now because xyz. This doesn’t start the situation off on a good vibe. Try to pick a time when you are not in a rush, not always possible I know.

2.Connection

Whatever your child is doing, find a way to connect with them. It could be that they are in the middle of drawing a picture, you ask them about it, anything to connect with them in what they are doing.

When your child feels connected with you, they are much more likely to be willing to comply with the next steps of what needs to be done.

3.Transition

Help your child to transition to the task ahead maintaining the connection in a way that invites them to be involved. Perhaps you could say “now that we’ve finished xyz, lets head over here and have a look at . . . together. You can help me get your kit ready things ready”.

4.Involvement

Help them take ownership by getting things ready with you, preparing injections or testing kit etc. Let them decide how and where they want to sit or lie down.

5.Reluctance

Despite going through the above steps, sometimes, they still find it hard to move away from what they are doing. They could feel particularly emotional or tired at the end of a busy day. Make it as easy as possible, bring the kit to them if needs be.

6.Empathise

Acknowledge how they are feeling without trying to go into FIX it or problem solving mode or by telling them o just get on with it as this mentality can cause them to feel shut down and unable to express themselves.

Words like “you’re really not wanting to have this done today are you?”

“Are you finding it really hard today having diabetes? I understand”.

Give them chance to express how they may be feeling without interrupting them or rushing them. Then acknowledge that its OK to feel like that. Its OK to feel upset or angry and its OK to feel scared or afraid of having an injection or cannula change done.

Offer a cuddle.

It can also be helpful to remind them that you love them, you don’t want to hurt them but you do want them to stay healthy and strong and that this special medicine will help do that even though it may seem hard.

7.Motivation or Incentive

Sometimes the above is enough to then get the job done. Other times it may take a bit of extra persuasion.

  1. For little children, they could have a special teddy or soft toy that they cuddle while you do the injection or site change.
  2. Could have a soft toy that they can do the injection or site change on first.
  3. Collect stickers on a chart for being brave with an incentive to collect so many.
  4. Song to sing whilst you do it.
  5. Invite them to squeeze you as tight as they can.
  6. Distraction sometimes works for us, a short game or clip on the i pad or phone.

8.Further reluctance

No matter how hard we try to remain calm and go through the above steps, sometimes it is still not happening and thy really need to just have the injection.  The first 6 months from diagnosis, injections for us were very much a two person job for us so I’ve been there. I’ve found in these situations although it is not easy it is more about how you do it and what you say.

Take 3 deep breaths to help your self stay calm and help release the endorphins we need to help us to relax..

Use a positive but gentle tone of voice.

I you’ve already been through the above steps of connections and empathy. You could reiterate that by saying something like:

“you really don’t want this injection do you?”

Then:

“I understand how you are feeling and that’s OK to feel that. You are my precious girl/boy and I’m going to help you to be brave. Come and sit on my knee, we can do this together”.

I feel strongly that giving them the reassurance that they are not alone in this, is key in them feeling connected.

There have been times when I have been through all of the above and my daughter has still been hysterical. Its heart breaking to see but its OK. In those situations I have had to hold her close as gently as possible, stay calm, talk to her in a reassuring way, tell her that I love her and that it is all going to be OK and that we are just going to get the injection done.

Perhaps in this case it is helpful to have a second person to do the injection or cannula (again not always possible) change so you can focus on holding the child. Then reassure them after and let them have a cry or express themselves in some other way.

The difficult days seem never ending at the time but they do pass, as our child matures, grows, understands more and each day brings different challenges.

But as we have found out, things can go swimmingly well for a long time and sometimes they regress or suddenly become overwhelmed by it all again. That is perfectly normal too. I think we all find in life that we can cope for so long with difficult situations then every now and then they overwhelm us and we have to let frustrations out. So just embrace them and love them through it. If you try and see it through your child’s perspective it can help change our perspective too. Life with Type 1 is not easy.

I would love to hear any tips you have for dealing with the more challenging behaviours that can accompany injections, sensor and pump changes. So please comment below to share yours.

Have a great day! Here’s to our little superheroes!

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