How to Teach a 4 Year Old About Childhood Diabetes: 10 Steps
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Show your child how to cook sugar-free treats.


Teaching your 4-year-old child about diabetes requires a certain finesse. You don't want to alarm him, but at the same time, you want him to understand that it is a serious illness that requires treatment. When your child has diabetes, it is important to appropriately explain the disease and its treatment to alleviate any fears or misconceptions.

EditSteps

  1. 1
    Display different types of sugar, breads, potatoes, carrots and other types of carbohydrates on the table along with the sugar. Explain that, in most people, the body turns these types of foods into glucose -- a fancy word for "sugar."
  2. 2
    Define insulin for your child and explain that her body lacks the ability to create it from the foods she eats. Explain that the insulin injections are almost painless – similar to a mosquito bite. Tell her they are necessary to give her energy to be able to romp and play without tiring rapidly.
  3. 3
    Cook sugar-free and healthy foods with your 4-year-old. Many children enjoy helping their parents prepare meals or snacks. Use sugar-free products and those with fewer carbohydrates in the cooking preparation. This allows him to make desserts and treats that everyone in your family finds tasty. The activity helps give the child a feeling of control over the disease.
  4. 4
    Talk to the child about the diabetic diet. Explain that it is not only important for those with the disease, but that it is really a healthy way of eating for everyone.
  5. 5
    Exercise with your child and your whole family. Do this as a special family night two or three times a week or more. Explain to your 4-year-old that exercise is sometimes an effective way to lower the glucose in the body. Tell her that exercise is not only a way to control the diabetes, but is important for overall good health for everyone. This will help diminish feelings of being "different."
  6. 6
    Tell the child that the urine strips and meters that test his blood are excellent ways of making sure his body has the right level of glucose. Explain that symptoms such as being unusually thirsty, tired or having to urinate may be symptoms that the body has too much glucose at that moment.
  7. 7
    Volunteer to take a sugar-free dessert or healthy snack to a birthday party, family gathering or preschool activity. Later on, ask the child if she heard compliments about the yummy treats. Explain that people rarely detect the difference when using sugar-free products in foods. Bringing treats your child can eat is an effective way to prevent feelings of deprivation while others are indulging in birthday cake and other taboo foods.
  8. 8
    Tell the child that her friends don’t have to know she has diabetes unless she chooses to tell them. Preschool children often try to avoid being different in any way because of the fear of not fitting in with their peers.
  9. 9
    Ask a diabetic preteen, teenager or young adult your child admires to talk to him about his own experiences with childhood diabetes. Instruct the person to give the child helpful hints in dealing with food choices at restaurants, parties and other places food is served away from home.
  10. 10
    Participate in fundraisers to raise awareness of the disease and to help find a cure. Joining in a “Walk to Cure Diabetes” sponsored by the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation is one wise way for your entire family to have fun together and show support to the child. It will also help your child feel empowered as she takes action to help find a cure and participates with other children with diabetes. Bake sales and car wash fundraisers are other ways to raise funds to help battle this disease.

EditTips

  • Explore day camps in your area for children with diabetes and find a support group for children with this disease. These are valuable places for the child to talk freely about his disease and meet other children with the same struggles. When your child is older, he can attend summer camps away from home where he can meet peers of the same age who have childhood diabetes.Tell the child that when she is older, she will be responsible for choosing her diet and regulating any shots or medications, but that for now, you will do this to keep her safe.Explain to your 4-year-old that moderation is the key in staying healthy. Having childhood diabetes does not mean that she cannot ever have birthday cake or ice cream. Explain that you will help her regulate her diet to allow for these foods on special occasions.

EditThings You'll Need

  • Sugar and other carbohydrates
  • Sugar-free food alternatives

Article Info

Categories: Education and Communications

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