Diabetes Affects Siblings Too

When a child is diagnosed with diabetes, the whole family is affected. If you have more than one child, keep in mind that each of them is different and will handle the diagnosis differently.

Here are some ways you can help each child adjust to life with diabetes.

  • Ask questions about feelings and fears. It's often hard to share feelings of fear, guilt and jealousy. Show affection to your other children by asking questions that help them to open up to you.
  • Teach siblings about diabetes, but limit the amount of responsibility you give to them. It is really important to teach all of your children about diabetes to calm their fears and so they can learn how to help. But it's equally important not to give too much responsibility to them. Too much responsibility can be stressful — even for a teenager.
  • Talk about other things. Declare a time of day — after dinner or on the way to school are great options — when you make a point to talk about other stuff. This helps all of your children to remember that you are living with diabetes but your life is not all about diabetes.
  • Treat each child individually. Fairness does not mean treating your children equally. Fairness is valuing and admiring your child's individuality. Make time for each child. Respect each child's unique interests, needs and abilities.
  • Listen to and observe changes in your child. Be sure all of your children know that you're always there to listen, and really listen when they come to you. Often it's easy to hear what someone is saying, but truly listening is always harder to do. Be curious. Pay careful attention to what your child shares. Not every comment or feeling needs a solution or response. Just listen with your full heart.
  • Let siblings be siblings. Your kids will still want to play, argue and compete with one another. They'll have their private jokes, conversations and secrets that all siblings have together. Diabetes doesn't change that — neither should you.
  • Seek help, when needed. There may be a time when you've done all you can do. You are not alone — your diabetes care team can help you find an expert who has helped families deal with stress.
  • Last Reviewed: July 31, 2013
  • Last Edited: October 28, 2013

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