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November 12, 2002


Question from South Gate, California, USA:

My thirteen year old daughter is having some difficulties in coping with her illness. She’s getting very stubborn, and she is not following instructions properly so her sugar readings are high most of the time. She refuses to count her carbohydrate intake, and she gets upset if we do not give her more food. We’ve been trying to help her, but, since both of us are working, there is not much that we can do. She has been missing several days at her school, claiming that she feels sick. Sometimes she has said that she is feeling nauseated or that her stomach hurts. She also complains about getting her fingers poked and the insulin injections. She does not like to exercise or learn about her illness. A couple of years ago, we took her to see a psychologist, but that only helped her a little. What can we do as parents to help her out?


From: DTeam Staff

It is very common for young teenagers to become frustrated and angry about the demands of their diabetes care. It is also common for them to stop counting carbs and to stop checking blood sugars. Some even skip shots. However, it is never safe to allow a child to make such dangerous choices about their diabetes care.

This means that although it is understandable that your daughter is sick of her care, you can not allow her to make choices that hurt her health. Please talk with your daughter about how she is feeling, and work really hard to listen without judging her opinions or feelings. Then let her know that she has every right to all of her feelings, and that it appears that she needs a vacation from thinking about her diabetes. Offer to take over her insulin shots and her blood sugar checks for a few weeks. Also offer to make her meals so that you’re the one doing the carb-counting. This may be very difficult for you to do given your work schedule. However, finding a way to make the time to help your daughter now will probably save you more difficulties later.

Finally, please do not give up on therapy. Many people do not click with the first therapist they see. Talk with members of her diabetes team and/or her pediatrician for recommendations of therapists.