June 20, 2012
Question from Manama, Bahrain:
Diagnosed three months ago, my child has been on NovoLog and Lantus. Recently, I noticed some changes in behavior. Before, she was very easy to get along with, a sweet girl but, now, she is different. If she doesn’t get what she wants, she always locks herself in her room and cries. Afterward, when I enter her room, it looks like there was some tsunami that went through it because everything was upside down. When I talked to her, she said she cannot control her anger. I’m scared that maybe she will behave like this at school. I don’t know how to discipline her without giving her stress that might cause hypoglycemia. Is this normal for a diabetic child?
All children need to have clear rules and limits. They also need to learn how to control frustration and manage disappointment-whether they have diabetes or not. So, please do not allow the fact that your child has diabetes to change your rules, expectations or parenting strategies. Stress does not cause low blood sugars (although it could temporarily raise them, but that should not change your approach to parenting).
It is important to check your daughter�s blood sugars when she is having difficulties with her behaviors to determine if she is low (low blood sugars can often times cause unusual behaviors, and the treatment is to give your child fast-acting carbohydrates to bring her sugars up). If a child has a low blood sugar-that is the only time that parenting strategies should be different than what they usually are, as when a person has a low blood sugar, they are not in control of what they do or say. However, you say that these tantrums occur when she does not get what she wants, which is unlikely to then be a result of lows.
Finally, it is common for children with diabetes to become sick and tired of the never-ending blood sugar checks and insulin shots. If you think that her tantrums are an expression of her frustration with the daily demands of diabetes, then it is important to talk with her about these feelings, normalize them, and help her come up with ways to let you know how frustrated she is with diabetes that does not destroy her room. If you need help with such strategies, please talk with your diabetes team members and see if they can recommend a child psychologist or social worker that can help you.