Your Child and the Stigma of Diabetes


5 Tips to Help Your Child Navigate Sensitive Situations

Many of our customers at JQ Medical are parents of children with diabetes. In addition to the juggling that all parents must do, they have the unique responsibilities and stresses that come with diabetes.  Not only must they help their child manage the disease – they also find themselves needing to educate others about what it means (and doesn’t mean) for their child to be living with diabetes.  Despite much greater awareness and acceptance around diabetes today, children (and even their parents) are sometimes not as sensitive or educated when it comes to diabetes as others.

Below are a few tips on how to counter the misperceptions or stigmas surrounding T1D and prepare your child to handle sensitive situations.

  • Be open about the disease and encourage your child to do the same.  Not so long ago, there was a lot of shame and stigma associated with diabetes.  That’s not as true today.  In fact, about 283,000 Americans under age 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. More people talk about it openly and what it means for them than ever before.  Children are inherently curious; guiding yours on how to teach their friends and classmates about what it means to have diabetes helps them be prepared if it comes up.
  • Ask other parents to be inclusive.  Children with diabetes can do nearly everything other kids can, including going to birthday parties and trick or treating on Halloween.  As long as the appropriate precautions are in place around sugary treats and hosts are aware of the situation, it’s fine. Many parents bring diabetes friendly treats or snacks to functions that everyone can enjoy. Ensure you’re aware of upcoming school functions, parties and sports events and that your child can take part.  Kids with diabetes may already feel isolated simply by having the disease so social interactions are extremely important.
  • Work with your child on how to address hurtful remarks or dumb questions.  From the naïve (“Did you eat too many sweets?”) to the scary (“Are you afraid of going blind?”) the questions both children and adults ask a child with diabetes and his parent can be at best annoying and at worst, psychologically damaging.  Make sure your child is prepared for these questions before it happens. This blog has some great advice.
  • Connect with others dealing with diabetes. There are great resources for children to meet others who have diabetes in support groups and other activities. These groups are helpful for parents as well, and helps alleviate the sense that you and your family are alone in this.  It’s also a great place to share stories and tips on how to handle the weird questions your child will inevitably get asked about diabetes.
  • Keep your cool.  As a parent of a child with diabetes, you are likely extra protective and always want to rise to defend him or her in the face of ignorance.  Remember: your kids are watching you.  By taking a moment to thoughtfully counter an ignorant remark with facts teaches your child how to gracefully stand up for themselves when you’re not there.


JQ Medical was founded by Jan Quigley who was diagnosed at age nine.  So our team at JQ Medical understands the challenges and triumphs of raising a child with diabetes.  If you’d like to know more about the solutions we can provide to help manage diabetes for your or your family, please contact us today. Our primary focus is to help you and your family live your best lives.