The challenge of leaving your child on their own and/or under the care of others, can be very stressful and worrying for many parents and carers. It is very normal to feel anxious, nervous and afraid. Therefore, good preparations and effective communication with the school staff could help to reduce the feeling of uncertainty. The better you, your child and school staff are prepared for this challenge, the less stressful it will be. When educating them, remember that the teachers and school staff will never be as fluent in diabetes management as you are, and it is good to have appropriate expectations towards them.
Although you might have difficulties in believing in it, your child will be in good hands and will be safe – the risk of severe complications – although still exists, is very low thanks to the great self-management tools (glucose monitoring, insulin pumps etc) available now. Your child sooner or later will learn how to be more independent in their diabetes management, and teachers/staff will figure out how and when to help. Even if the blood glucose levels will not be all the time “in range”, the benefits for children to attend school and take part in all the school activities are priceless. School is very important for their development, mental well-being, social skills, resilience, and independence – in diabetes management too. Children must learn how to manage their condition, and school time gives them this great opportunity in a safe environment. And they will learn, from their own mistakes too.
From the mental well-being perspective, children and adolescents with diabetes at schools should be able to:
- Be safe: if younger, they should have received support from teachers/SNA’s, if older should be allowed to control their diabetes and react whenever necessary.
- Have opportunity to do diabetes-related tasks discretely, if they wish, or during the class in the classroom, depending on their preference.
- Be able to take part in all school activities including school events, school trips, tournaments (although it might require some preparations) etc. and be treated equally as their peers.
- Expect the teacher’s support in case of discrimination, bullying or conflict (which rarely occurs) if it is associated with diabetes.
- Children with diabetes have the right to experience school life in the same way as their peers without diabetes.
If you are concerned about your child’s or your own mental health and well-being you can contact our Helpline and ask about our counselling services! https://www.diabetes.ie/care-centre/dublin-care-centre/counselling/