Children And Diabetes

For teens and children with Type 1, the actual time of their diabetes diagnosis is often a confusing and frightening blur. They have a memory of feeling ill, being suddenly taken to hospital and waking up on a drip, surrounded by various medical staff and anxious parents. It may all seem like a nightmare, best forgotten.

Diabetes, though, can’t be forgotten. Unlike the usual illnesses of childhood, Type 1 diabetes won’t ever go away. When the child slowly realizes this they’re naturally both frightened and upset. They may long for it to be yesterday, or last week – to return to the way things were before.

After a loss – and this is a loss – people naturally go through a period of grief and mourning. This process takes time, but is necessary for recovery and for getting used to a new and difficult way of life. How long it takes depends on the individual and how much support, both emotional and physical, is available. Allow children to grieve in their own way, and don’t try to hurry them.

How to support children with diabetes

One way to help a child through this difficult time is to let them talk openly to someone who’ll listen and understand. Having Type 1 diabetes is often a lonely business, and having the support and understanding of family and friends can be a great source of strength.

There’s no need for a child with Type 1 diabetes to stop doing anything their friends do. But there can be difficulties on the way and these need to be acknowledged.


  • Older children and teenagers – Many children (especially older children) find it difficult to talk about their diabetes – as indeed do many adults. They may find it easier to talk to someone outside their immediate family – like a grandparent or best friend. It can also help an older child to keep a daily journal to say how the day was, what was especially difficult and what was good.
  • Young children – Young children with diabetes need comfort, cuddles and calm handling. If your child’s diabetes diagnosis comes when they’re very young, be aware that problems may emerge when they’re older – often when school starts and your child realises that their life is different to those of other children.

Join The DATT Volunteer Community

Make your time count by volunteering for one or more of the many DATT events. You’ll make a difference through community outreach, advocacy, and inspiration.