By Sandra Arévalo, MPH, RDN, CDN, CDCES, CLC, FADA
Parents of children living with type 1 diabetes may experience feelings of fear and anxiety when school starts. They need to know that their child is safe when they aren’t present. Here are a few tips you can share with your clients to help their child be safe and give them the peace of mind they deserve.
- Have a conversation with the school staff, mainly the school nurse. Make sure that the staff know how to treat type 1 emergencies such as hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Provide your nurse with an emergency kit for your child that contains glucagon, insulin and a glucometer with supplies. Nurses know how to treat these emergencies, but if a talk with the nurse gives you piece of mind, go for it.
- Request the lunch menu from the school. Making sure your child eats healthy goes a long way in diabetes management. Take time to review the school lunch and snacks menu with your child. Educate your child on healthy food choices. Pack a snack or lunch from home if the food in the menu doesn’t fit your child’s needs.
- Create a safety plan around physical activities. If your child has physical activity or has decided to join a sports team you might need to adjust the insulin settings and/or food plan for those days to avoid hypoglycemia. If you’re not sure how to do this on your own, talk to your health care provider or diabetes care and education specialist.
- Set up controls in the blood glucose monitor and insulin pump. Blood glucose monitors and insulin pumps have alarm settings that connect to your phone and alert you when you need to take action. These alarms can give you peace of mind because you will know when your child needs help, so you can call the school nurse or the teacher. However, you want to make sure these alarms are set the right way. If you set them incorrectly your phone will be beeping all day, giving you more stress than peace of mind. If you aren’t sure how to set up these alarms, call your device provider, healthcare provider or diabetes care and education specialist.
- Pack water. It is important that your child is hydrated thru the day to avoid hyperglycemia. Pack a large bottle of water and/or talk to teachers to make sure your child gets water breaks.
- Trust your child. Your children may know a lot more about type 1 diabetes than you think. After all, they are the ones that feel when their blood sugars are high or low. Encourage them to immediately seek help when they are not feeling well.
It’s not easy for parents to send their small children to school, especially if the child has type 1 diabetes. We know there is a risk. However, with these tips you can help parents be proactive. While their child is in school, they can allow themselves a break and know they are doing their best.
For additional resources on managing diabetes in children, visit DiabetesEducator.org/Pediatric.
ADCES Perspectives on Diabetes Care
The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists Perspectives on Diabetes Care covers diabetes, prediabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions. Not all views expressed reflect the official position of the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists.
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