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Question:

From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA:

My niece is insulin dependent since she was nine. She is now 13 (soon 14) and is rebelling against everything, including taking insulin. School, home, any type of discipline is a big problem. She is seeing a therapist. Is there any additional help we can give her? We are very concerned.

Answer:

Welcome to the teen years of managing diabetes, what I often refer to as "Fasten your seatbelt, it's going to be a bumpy ride" time.

Age 14 is one of the toughest in general for kids with diabetes. The developmental task of every child at this age is to separate and individuate from their parents. Being "different" from peers becomes intolerable and so diabetes control lapses in many cases. Children who have never had issues around compliance, will often rebel at this time.

I realize that hearing this does not make you feel any more at ease! The good news is that her family has engaged a therapist. My hope is that the therapist has some working knowledge of diabetes, and specifically diabetes in children.

Is there a youth group for kids with diabetes in your area? Has your niece been to diabetes camp along the way? Would she profit from being a camp counselor at diabetes camp? Sometimes helping other kids can be a motivator for the adolescent.

Finally, she have reached the age where you are really going to have to "pick your battles" well. If she wants to dye their hair, pierce various body parts, and dress outrageously, you may need to relax on those things, remaining strong on the fact that neglecting diabetes is not an option!

CMB

Original posting 7 Aug 1998
Posted to Behavior

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:58
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