My 13-year-old nephew does not want to think about his diabetes-- any suggestions?

By Bruce44 Latest Reply 2013-06-17 17:28:24 -0500
Started 2013-06-14 21:17:23 -0500

My nephew was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes almost 2 years ago when he was 11. He does not want to think about or talk about diabetes, which is understandable since he is so young and the subject is so unpleasant. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to help a child deal with such a difficult subject as type 1 diabetes?

Is it better to teach him everything about it now, or wait until he is older?

10 replies

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-06-17 15:20:33 -0500 Report

Hi Bruce,

Your nephew is fortunate to have an uncle who is so concerned about him.

I have a couple of suggestions.

From your post, I wasn t sure if you had concerns about his compliance. So if he is not being compliant, it might be helpful for you or another adult to accompany him to his doctor's appointments, so that the three of you can talk about how he is feeling, how he is managing his self-care. While your nephew may not want to talk about this with family members, it might be helpful for the doctor to play "bad cop" and impress upon him how important it is to take care of himself. The three of you might also talk about how you can work together to support him in being complaint with his treatment regimen. A diabetes educator could be a great help here.

Another question: How are you approaching this conversation? If your nephew feels that this converation is being forced upon him in some way, or if he is being lectured, or criticized, he may feel defensive. Teens can put up a wall pretty quickly if they feel adults are trying to tell them what to do. So you might want to approach this conversation gently, remind him that you really care about him and want to support him in any way that you can, and that you are there for him, ready to talk and listen when he is ready. Remind him how important he is to you.

Offer to answer any questions he might have, and offer gentle guidance when a "teachable moment" comes up. If you are diabetic, or if another family member is, it might also be helpful for him to be around another diabetic who is open about what's going on with them, and has a positive attitude. Example is a great teacher.

It might help also to give him lots of encouragement. When you witness him taking good care of himself, give him some praise.

Again, just being there, showing concern, can have an impact even if at the time it doesn't feel that way.

I hope you will stay in touch with us.


s93vw 2013-06-15 22:18:45 -0500 Report

My daughter was diagnosed at 10 yrs. she was just that way until we talked her into a wk long ADA Camp. Totally gave her a new view and lots of friends with the same issues. I know they are very expensive but the are totally worth every penny spent.

Bruce44 2013-06-15 23:04:16 -0500 Report

Thanks. I am going to look into it for sure. (Oops— I accidentally hit this response twice I don't see how to delete one.)

RitaDawn 2013-06-15 16:27:28 -0500 Report

My daughter and I both have T1. She was diagnosed at age 12. There are sleep away camps SPECiFiCALLY for diabetic kids of ALL ages, even the counselors are diabetic!! It's a great place for them to connect with so many other YOUNG people that are in the same boat. Please look into it. It helped my daughter so much :) good luck

Set apart
Set apart 2013-06-15 07:01:53 -0500 Report

I have a nephew who is now 23 years old, diagnosed with T1 at 5 years. Old. He has been hospitalized 3 times in the last hear with stomach issues, yet doesn't realize that it's all linked. He has come to the conclusion that it will only affect "old people.". Sometimes family members are the last people they want to listen to, since they may think we nag about everything else. My sister had her Endo talk to my nephew, to an extreme of showing him slides of amputated limbs, etc. Did it help? Jot sure, is he educated, yes he knows what this disease can do to him. It's strange since I was diagnosed 2 years ago with T1 he seems to worry more about me, since I am that older person! Not sure if this helped, good luck!

hairbear68 2013-06-14 21:34:27 -0500 Report

I really don't know!!!! too bad there are not video games that sneak in the info while there having fun playing and learning… like the pc game museum madness it showed binary for pc and wright brother I played it back in 2000 and still remember a little of it

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