Working With Kids

I am wondering how everyone goes about telling young kids about their diabetes. I babysit and do childcare at my church regularly, and sometimes situations come up where it would be appropriate to tell them I have diabetes, but I don't exactly know how to since they are so young.

I work with kids anywhere from ages 0-8, and sometimes the younger ones (3-4) will want to share their snack with me, or they see my pump tubing and try to tug on it or want to know what it is. Sometimes I have to eat a few glucose tabs while watching them, and try to do it discretely, but they still notice.

So, I'm just wondering if any of you work with young kids regularly, how do you tell them about your diabetes if it comes up? Or do you even tell them? I usually just kind of distract them without saying anything because I'm not sure how to bring it up.

Hi Sarah! I tell the kids that I have diabetes, and of course they ask what that is. I just tell them that sometimes my body doesnt have enough sugar, and sometimes it has too much and then I show them my insulin pump. I get new skins for it sometimes, and they are always excited to see that. But otherwise, I find that just telling them briefly what it is, and letting them look at my pump, or having them help me oress buttons to do my insulin helps. (or letting them try a watermelon glucose tab depending on their age is fun too!)



I worked in a kids day camp this summer with kids aged 4-13. I ate snacks with them twice a day, went swimming with them etc, so they saw me check my blood sugar, bolus, disconnect and reconnect to my pump. At first some of the kids watched, but they never asked what it was, so I explained it to them depending on their age. For a 5/6 year old I would just say that I was testing to see if I had the right amount of sugar in my blood. And that I was putting medicine called insulin into my body to make my blood have the right amount of sugar. I showed them the tubing and showed them my site.

Some of the older girls were pretty interested in it, so I showed them my blood sugar readings, told them that the number should be around 100 and quizzed them on whether I needed insulin or food.

Over the summer I voulenteer at the summer program the school I went to when I was younger has with children 4-9, I babysit, and I'm a group leader for a youth voulenteer program with children ages 8-12. Depending on the ages I tell them certain things. I don't tell them until they ask what my pump is, what I'm doing when I'm testing, etc. If they are young, 2-6 or so, I simply tell them that I'm diabetic and I wear my pump or test my blood sugar to make sure I stay healthy. If they're a little older (7 or 8) I tell them that I have diabetes and having it makes my body not be able to control the amout of sugar in my blood by itself so I have to make sure it does for it. And then if they get even older (10 and up) I tell them that I have a disease called diabetes and a part of my body, called my pancreas, doesn't work anymore so I have to test my blood sugar to make sure I have the right amount of suagar in my body and take medicine in my pump to keep the amount of sugar in my blood from going too high. 

Basically, as the kid gets older, you can tell them more. Just remember when they are little keep the language simple and don't tell them anything that will scare them. Also, don't start throwing the work "disease" around until they are old enough to know that you aren't sick and they can't catch it from you.

I hope this helps!!

Thanks, everyone. I usually try to keep my words simple if I tell them, Iike Sierra said. I like Seb's idea of quizzing the older kids about what to do when I check my blood sugar.

It is amazing how much kids can understand when we try to explain something to them. Frankly, I don't normally talk about it with younger kids, but I know how important it is educate them. If someone asks me about my pump or anything else I am more than willing to answer questions or to educate them. The young mind is much more receptive, this is also a good way to make sure they get the right information and not the wrong or sometimes confusing information that the general public puts out. If you are more concerned with something happening when you are with the kids, i.e. a low or anything else you may want to at least let them know that you have an illness and if something happens to you, not that it likely will make sure someone knows to get another adult, call 911, or something else like that.

Again, though you need to be very careful with how you explain things to the kids, but someone should know just in case.