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Raising Happy Diabetic Kids
This is the first in a series of articles I am about to embark upon concerning this subject. As my family gets older and matures with this disease I think back to the early days and wonder why aren't we all on medication for depression? Why don't we have standing twice a week appointments with a psychiatrist? How did we end up so normal?(whatever that is) As I look back this didn't happen by accident, nor am I Super Dad, and I didn't plan it out step by step. It was mostly just paying attention, luck, and decent communication between my girls and me, granted sometimes at the top of our lungs.
The first thing I suggest you do is very important. Remember, our children are who they had in mind when they coined the phrase "monkey see monkey do". Trust Yourself! It's okay to do it your way. There're three components to raising happy kids, diabetic or not. They are Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance, an Self-Control. The more of these components your monkeys see in you, the more of these components you will see in your monkeys! I'm going to put out some ideas here but you're the boss of your situation. Do it your way.
Upon reading the three components you might ask "but where is self esteem?" I'll save that particular ramble for another day. Let me just assure you that if your child has self-confidence, self-reliance, and self-control then self-esteem comes naturally.
What is Self-Confidence? Self-Confidence is:
Trusting your ability to form and sustain relationships
Trusting your ability to complete various tasks well, knowing that others value your abilities
Trusting your ability to manage new siuations
Trusting your own judgements and common sense
As you can see trust is a key element of self-confidence. When our children don't have that measure of consistency and predictability in their lives it becomes difficult for them to gain the necessary trust either in themselves or in others to become self-confident. So if our children see that the people who are most important to them (us as parents) trust them and will provide them with a consistant environment, they will begin to trust themselves, their judgements, and those of the people around them. This is the beginning of common sense.(Yahoo!)
How do our children acquire Self-Confidence? Self-Confidence comes from:
Being accepted for who you are
Having someone show confidence in you
Knowing there is something you are good at
Having firm expectations of other people's behavior
Not being afraid of failure
Developing competence with the saftey of a parent close by
Seeing others you admire and copy, being confident and happy
It seems so easy when you write it down. When you think about it three main components have to be in place: Trust and Predictability, competence, and sociability.
Trust and Predictability - We all know that routines are important for developing feelings of trust and security. Think about the routines and relationships between you and your family and friends. How much do they keep to a pattern? Will your child begin each day with a reasonably clear idea of what will happen and when?
Competence - Being good at things. We all have different talents and abilities. We need to help our children identify the things they are good at and encourage them. These skills fall into a couple of different catagories.
Practical: Seeing how to make or mend things, and build things
Physical: Good at sports, kicking or catching a ball, swimming, running
Mental: Good ideas about things, good at solving practical problems, good at schoolwork
Social: Good at playing with others, kind and considerate, good at making new friends
Process: Being good at tying new things, sticking with difficult tasks and so on
Sociability - Trust and develope their social skills. Involve them moderately in your social life. If we have our children with us it shows not only are we happy to have them with us but also that we trust they will behave appropriately. Getting used to being in new situations, and learning to talk to different people will increase our children's confidence considerably. Here's one that took me a while to figure out. Give your child advance warning of your feelings, of short temper, tiredness, sadness, or whatever. "I've had a lousy day at work and I'm very crabby. It might be smart to keep your head down and your mouth shut." Or "I've had an argument with so and so and I'm feeling hurt. If I'm short with you I'm sorry." This not only teaches them techniques for managing their own feelings, but gives them a chance to learn sensitivity to the feelings and moods of others. These are essential social skills not only for now but for later on in life.
Our children will develope self-confidence only if we have first shown trust and confidence in them and have given them an environment where they can predict and trust. Diabetes and all of the unpredictability, feelings of powerlessness, and exclusion that sometimes go with it just make this process that much more difficult. I look at it like if it was easy any idiot could do it. Well, we're not just any idiot. We're special idiots. We have been entrusted with the care and upbringing of a diabetic child. So remember you are a special person entrusted with a very special task. Trust yourself. It's okay to do it your way.
In the next issue I'll take a look at Self-Reliance.
Russell Turner is the father of a 10 year old Type 1 Juvenile Diabetic daughter. When she was first diagnosed he quickly found there was all kinds of information on the internet about the medical aspects of this dsease. What he couldn't find was information about how to prepare his family to live with this disease. He started a website http://www.mychildhasdiabetes.com and designed it so parents of newly diagnosed children would have a one-stop resource to learn to prepare for life with diabetes.
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