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March 21, 2006

Behavior

Question from Sparks, Nevada, USA:

My 20 month old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes six weeks ago and she is throwing more tantrums and displaying more misbehavior. She was a very easy child before all this. Is it from the diabetes, her age, or both?

Answer:

Many children display behavior changes after being discharged from the hospital, regardless of why they were in the hospital. If you could create the ideal environment for a toddler, you would create a predictable, calm, nurturing environment with familiar routines and familiar faces. The hospital setting is the exact opposite of this. So, we place children, because they are ill, in the worst possible setting for what they need developmentally. Then, when children come home, they will often need a few weeks, typically four to eight, being at home until they realize that things are back to normal.

In the meantime, provide her with choices throughout the day (do you want to wear your blue shirt or your green one?; should we eat peanut butter or turkey?; should we go to the grocery store first or to the dry cleaners?). Also, ignore tantrums that are not dangerous, so she knows she gets no attention from misbehaving. In other words, treat her as you always would have, with the same expectations and the same disciplinary style.

JWB
Additional comments from Jeff Hitchcock, CWD Founder and Editor:

I would recommend checking blood sugars to rule out a high or low as a cause of or aggravating factor in a tantrum in a young child, especially since your daughter was only recently diagnosed.

JSH