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From Portland, Oregon, USA:

My 9 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in April, 1996 [11 months ago]. I give her 3 shots a day of insulin and she still cries very hard each time. She also is still very angry about having diabetes and it is hard to get her to talk about it (I even sent her to camp). What can I do to help her with the shots and to help her in feeling more positive about herself?


It is very common and actually normal for a child to be angry about having diabetes. There is no one answer how to handle this that suits everyone, but here are a few suggestions.

  • Sympathize with her. Acknowledge that no one likes having diabetes. You can even tell her you are sad that she has diabetes and you wish there was a cure or an easier way to treat it.
  • Try to praise her when she does things she doesn't like to do without excessive complaining. I sometimes suggest that you actually encourage her to complain before or after the shot for a "prescribed time". I sometimes suggest to my patients that they actually time for 60 seconds and complain before they give their shots. (Most 9 year olds will sense the humor behind this suggestion) and sometimes, it takes the edge off things and helps them relax.
  • Try the new syringes with the shorter, thinner needle (Bectin Dickenson 30 gauge, short). Most kids think they really hurt less.
  • Encourage your daughter to talk about her experiences every day in general - how was school, did she play with any kids? Periodically ask her if the diabetes got in the way.
  • Be practical - You must make your child take her shot. Try to build in a "reward" that if she takes her shot without delaying (more than the prescribed time), you will have time to do something special with her everyday such as play a game together in the evening. If she complains so much that you are delayed from your work or activities, she must understand that you won't have time later on for this special activity. Make sure to present this as logic and not a punishment. Of course she can complain as much as she likes during the day as long as she does what she needs to do and doesn't keep you, herself, or others from the days' activities.
If your child's anger seems to be interfering with her every day function, you should discuss with her doctor seeing a therapist.


Original posting 14 Dec 96


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