Helping Your Teen Manage Diabetes

Is glucose monitoring becoming a minefield? Here’s how to help your teen take charge of their diabetes.

Deborah Pike Olsen
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The solution: Let your child know it’s not their fault if their blood sugar is difficult to control. During the teen years, a hormone that stimulates the growth of bone and muscle acts against insulin, causing swings in blood sugar levels, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Encourage your child to take an active role in their diabetes care. Help them set small goals, such as cutting back on sweets, and praise them when they meet those goals. Also, help your teen connect with other kids who have the disease. Ask your healthcare team for a referral to a local support group. And consider sending your child to a summer camp for teens with diabetes; more than 400 exist worldwide. To find one near you, go to

3. The problem: Your child is forgetting to test their blood sugar
Today’s teens are often just as busy as adults, with hours of homework, soccer practice and music lessons—not to mention outings with friends. As a result, it may be difficult for your teen to juggle the additional responsibility of staying on top of their blood sugar level.
The solution
: Even though your child is old enough to handle most of their self-care, you should be involved. Consider saying, “I know you’re very busy. What would help you remember to test yourself?” You might offer to text them reminders. You might also consider checking your child’s meter history once a day to pinpoint when they are forgetting to test.

Finally, ask your teen’s healthcare team, school nurse, coaches and friends for help. Give the school staff a copy of your child’s diabetes care plan, and meet with them to discuss how it can be implemented at school. Also, if your child is receptive, talk with them and a few of their friends about ways they may be able to help your child stay on track. For instance, the friends can easily remind your teen to do a blood sugar check.

April 2013