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January 24, 2013

Behavior

Question from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA:

My 12-year-old granddaughter lies about cheating with foods, including sweets. Her blood sugars are all over the place. They swing very high and very low. She is mean, does not do her school work, and does not care about anything. Where can we get help? Her mom and dad are at their wits' end. I am afraid her parents will find her dead some day.

Answer:

It is not helpful to talk about lying or cheating or sneaking food when it comes to living with diabetes. Although there are certainly more healthy foods and less healthy foods, blood sugars can be fairly well controlled no matter what a child eats, as long as the adult caregivers are checking their child’s blood sugars frequently (approximately four to seven times per day) and administering insulin before each meal and administering correction doses of insulin when necessary as well. IF the parents are not checking and are not administering insulin (NOT the child but the parents), then that is the very first and most important step in helping your grandchild move toward better health.

With respect to cooperating with homework assignments, that may be a result of poor blood sugar control, which will be addressed by having the parents take over her diabetes care. IF it does not improve in a few weeks time, then the parents need to contact their diabetes team professionals or their pediatrician or the American Diabetes Association local office and get referrals for a child psychologist or other mental health professional who can work with the family.

JWB