There is a commercial on the air that shows when a woman receives a report from her Doctor and her cholesterol (bad) has dropped, she is ecstatic. She high-fives the world……and goes bowling; she is very happy.
When it comes to diabetes and numbers, I have always thought it better to take a different approach. When Kaitlyn was younger, each time she checked her blood sugar, we tried our hardest to show no reaction and always just thanked her for taking care of herself……..it served us well.
Here is my cautionary tale to all parents. My disclaimer here is that you may disagree with me, and perhaps even disagree strongly, but what I want to do today is start a dialogue. I WANT TO KNOW what you do and why. You would be surprised on how many times I am told by PM or in an email, “I don’t really respond online anywhere, but I read everything.” So here we go.
In as much as good numbers seem worthy to shout from a mountain top and posting pictures of your child holding a meter with a number like 92; my question has always been; what happens when your child is 341? When you don’t shout about those numbers….what else can your child think but that THEY failed.
Now hear me out.
I’m all for 1000% positive reinforcement for any child. Lord knows how much I love kids and would do anything to make their lives easier. I’m not asking this question to you, from your point of view………I want you to think of it from their point of view.
If you tout a great number or a great A1C number, undoubtedly there will be times when a less than optimum number will be present…..if you build up one it is only natural that your child will feel like they failed when that not-so-good-number shows up.
IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT.
There is nothing they could do to prevent this disease. So if given the choice, if they are trying (I leave that to you to define) their best; the number should not matter in relation to doing well or not. The number is a gauge that allows them to adjust. The number is a means to correct something going on inside their body. I cannot warn strong enough, to be very careful how you reflect that number on your child—–good or bad. Because if you highlight the good, the bad will be taken to heart.
Think about it. “Great number honey.” “Wow, one hundred; way to go.” “What a great day of numbers you are having.” “GREAT! Second number in a row below 120…good job honey.”
And what happens when the numbers do not reflect so good?
( we —– say —–nothing )
What is your child to think? However if you think of something to say, for the simple reason they are checking their blood sugar to make sure they are staying healthy (over simplified, I know) as a positive reinforcement—-fabulous.
My dear friend Dr. Richard Rubin, and truly the world’s best at the psyche of diabetes and children, told me once that after we check Kaitlyn’s blood, to ask her why she thought the number was what it was; 100 or 280? Of course depending on how high or how low matters when to ask that question but his point was clear; do whatever we could so that the number had no direct reflection on our child……..because even if ‘they were bad all morning’ eating what they were not supposed to (geared to the teen years)—it’s STILL NOT THEIR fault they HAVE TO EAT a certain way.
Now I never stated this would be easy. We have all gone through the teen years and it is very difficult when they are not doing what they ‘are supposed to be’ doing. But when it comes to diabetes, IT IS NOT THE SAME as clean up your room. If your child ‘shuts you out’ because you have made THEIR diabetes YOUR mission to correct them at every turn——-your voice will be ‘muted-out’ as they get older.
Be creative. Dr. Rubin (Lord, how I miss this man) stated to always make it about choices. As fast as possible, change out the focus on the number with asking them what they should do about it? “You are 325, should you take insulin, or just a glass of water?” (and ask them why). The younger they are, the simpler you make it……..but make it about choices. “You are 100, do we need to do anything?”
After a while, these questions will become their questions which they can, and will, address themselves. When it comes to diabetes, I always tell people numbers are a gauge……make sure your child is not taking them as their reason for failure. The more you celebrate those ‘good numbers’, they will most assuredly take the ‘bad numbers’ in a way that they are doing something wrong. Easy? No. In the long run it will serve them much better. Leave reflections to the mirror.
I am a diabetes dad.
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