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March 20, 2002

Behavior

Question from Missouri, USA:

My seven year old daughter was diagnosed with diabetes about 10 months ago, and things went really well until she got Bell's palsy four months later. She was very angry. We worked really hard with her and her emotions. Now her face is back to about 80%, and she is having a lot of behavior issues in school (defiant, picking on students not as smart as her). (She is also extremely mature and smart.) Any advice would be appreciated.

Answer:

Your daughter has experienced two significant changes in only four months’ time, and the anger she feels may have its root in those big changes. Diagnosis of diabetes along with Bell’s Palsy would tax the most mentally healthy child, in my opinion. I wonder if you have given her a safe forum to speak about her outrage? Her life is not like it was, and her face is changed along with her metabolic condition. So the outside and the inside of this child is altered!

If you have any difficulty with discussing her anger, I strongly urge you to find a counselor who has a grasp of diabetes and familiarity with how medical conditions impact children uniquely.

This must all have been pretty overwhelming for you also. I have compassion for how much stress all the changes must have brought into your life as well. A seven year old shouldn’t have such a “double whammy” to contend with. I am so very sorry.

CMB
Additional comments from Dr. Jill Weissberg-Benchell:

Your daughter has certainly been through a lot (as have you), and none of it has been in her control. It is not at all surprising that she is feeling angry. However, her way of showing her frustration and anger will only cause her more difficulties, so she needs to learn new and more adaptive ways of coping with everything she has been through.

Please call your pediatrician and/or your diabetes team for recommendations for psychologists or other behavioral specialists for your daughter. Learning new strategies for recognizing, expressing, and coping with her feelings will be so helpful.

JWB