Shots & Blood Glucose Checks

Whether you have to give one or get one, insulin shots and finger pokes for blood glucose (blood sugar) checks are no fun.

You might feel scared, anxious or guilty about giving your child a shot or checking blood glucose but remember, your child takes their cues from you, so take a few deep breaths, relax and be assured that it gets easier — for both you and your child.

Insulin Saves Lives

Don't think of it as sticking your child and causing pain, think of it as saving his life. Blood glucose checks, insulin shots, pump infusions and other treatments keep your child healthy. These are non-negotiable pokes.

Remind yourself that when your grandparents were young — before 1923 — these life-saving treatments weren't available for kids with diabetes. When it was discovered, families like yours called insulin a medical miracle!

Relax and It'll Hurt Less

  • Take deep breaths and exhale slowly.
  • Give your child bubbles to blow before and during the shot to help him breathe deeply.
  • Sing a favorite song or tell a silly joke.
  • Play pretend doctor. Let your child give a pretend shot to his stuffed animal — or to you — first.
  • Talk about the best thing that happened that day.
  • Don't stall — getting it over means getting on with some fun!
  • Kiss the site before and after — then give each other a big hug.
  • Praise your child for being so brave.

Build Confidence

  • Practice. Your diabetes care team will help you practice preparing shots and infusion sites, and checking blood glucose levels. Ask them if you can practice by giving yourself a shot of saline (salt water). DO NOT practice with insulin. You'll see it's not so bad!
  • Know your options. Ask your doctor about short needle insulin syringes or insulin pens, and less painful blood glucose meters. These can be less scary and painful for your child.
  • Change lancets often. Fresh lancets hurt less than used lancets that get duller with each use. Use a new one each time.
  • Involve your child or be involved in their care. If your child is young, let him pick the finger or site and count down so they feel part of the team. If your child is older, sit with him and help him to relax. Supervise in a subtle way by soothing with a loving touch or conversation while you watch. Provide positive feedback and guidance on the least painful way to do it. Once they've got it down, try not to hover.

Throw Away Used Needles Safely

Collect used needles in an old milk jug or liquid laundry detergent bottle until you can dispose of them safely.

You can also look for a clipper that snips the needle off so you can safely throw the rest of the syringe away.

Check your county's hazardous waste policy for the proper way of disposing used needles.

  • Last Reviewed: July 31, 2013
  • Last Edited: October 28, 2013

Articles from Diabetes Forecast® magazine:

Diabetes Forecast