Raising Happy Diabetic Kids Part II Help Yor Child Develop
by: Russell Turner
This is the second article in a series I am writing about how
to raise happy diabetic children. You can find the first article
titled Help Your Child Develope Self-Confidence in our article
Sometimes the phrase "happy diabetic kids" seems to be an
oxymoron. Often it seems all of the dark powers of the diabetes
universe are aligned against you. You wonder if there isn't some
evil house elf behind the scenes just making everyone's life
miserable on purpose. Not being graduates of Hogwarts School Of
Magic we can't just wave a magic wand and make it all better. We
must prepare for life with diabetes and we must prepare our
children. Self-Reliance is a critical skill for diabetic
children to master. Think of all of the responsibilities that go
into daily diabetes care. We all realize that we must keep the
responsibilities we put upon our children age appropriate. Non
the less, in most school aged children the ability to take some
responsibility for their own care goes a long way in giving them
some feelings of control over their diabetes. Last month I
mentioned there are three components to raising happy children.
Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance and Self-Control. No I still
haven't forgotten Self-Esteem we'll get there. I'm still of the
opinion that with these first three components your child can't
help but develope Self-Esteem.
What is Self-Reliance?
Self-Reliance is the ability to manage on your own: to know how
to manage your time, to function and think independently,
combined with the ability to solve problems. With self-reliance,
there is no need for other people's approval before moving
forward or doing something new. It's also un-neccessary for
constant guidance on how to achieve a goal. you can rely on
yourself. Self-reliance is about tasks and skills -- knowing how
to do things, how to achieve things or how to manage things. It
also includes the ability to be alone and to think things
through on your own. Self-reliance is broader than
self-confidence. Self-confidence relates to what we can do, to
specific skills. Self-reliance is about being independent,
creative and self-sufficient; having confidence in our
inner-selvs to enable us to adapt and manage on our own.
Self-Reliance helps us become:
Self-reliance is also having confidence in your own ideas. It is
about being able to see things through to completion. It is
about not being afraid of setting goals, and not being stopped
by fear of failure. There is a common belief that the world is
made up of three diffrent types of people:
- those who make things happen;
- those who watch things happen;
- those who notice nothing until after then ask, "What happened?"
Those who have good self-reliance (and self-confidence, and
self-control) develope self-esteem and make things happen. If we
want our children to be able to make things happen, we don't
have to think on a grand scale. It doesn't mean we all should
want our children to be like Bill Gates, or Nobel Prize winners.
We don't need to have our children achieve on a scale that makes
a difference to others, We should aim to give our children a
measure of self-reliance that allows them to keep better control
of their own lives and keep choices open for them.
Self-Reliant at What?
We can encourage self-reliance in our children from a fairly
early age. As soon as your child shows they can manage things
for themselves, however slowly or clumsily, we should allow them
to do so. Self-reliance is best introduced and experienced stage
by stage, starting early and building up slowly as they become
more more competent and responsible. When children are very
young they have this almost unstoppable drive to become
independent. Before they learn adult concepts of failure, they
are willing to try over and over until they master whatever they
are trying to do. This is especially true if they have older
brothers or sisters. They desprately want to do what the older
kids can do. If we stand in the way of letting them try or show
disapproval when they don't do it quite right we can damage
their belief in themselves. The more we do for them the more we
prevent them from developing the ability to make judgements and
decisions for themselves. The stages of self-reliance are fun to
watch. The first time your baby grabs a hand full of baby food
and finds their own mouth with it. When they learn to "go potty"
all by themselves. When they put their own shirt on, usually
backwards after wrestling with it for ten minutes. When they
pick up their own room. When they start to earn an allowance.
When they do their homework without you holding a gun to their
head. When they go off on their first baby-sitting job. When
they show you their first apartment, where you should promptly
go through it turning on and leaving on every light in the
place, leave the refridgerator door open and put your feet up on
their new furniture. These stages progress until they present
you one day with a grandchild. Clearly you cannot encourage
self-reliance in your child if you are not prepared to stand
back and progressively let go. Doing that in the right amounts
and at the right times is hard to judge. Add the dangers of
their not managing daily diabetes treatment into it and you
realize just how careful you need to be. Giving them
responsibility and independence depends on the age and
personality of your child and on your own particular
circumstances. Children can become self-reliant only if we have
encouraged their independence, given them practice in making
decisions that concern themselves and their health, and shown
them that they can be relied upon.
We have been given a special task, raising a diabetic child.
This makes us special people. If we weren't up to it we wouldn't
have been entrusted with it. Self-reliance is a critical part of
raising any child, diabetic or not. Diabetes just makes it more
difficult and more important we help our children develope this
Next month I'll talk about Self-Control.
Russell Turner is the father of a 10 year old Type 1 diabetic
daughter. After diagnosis he found plenty of medical information
about diabetes on the internet. What he couldn't find was
information about how to prepare his child and family to live
with this disease. He started his own website for parents of
newly diagnosed diabetic children.