Monday, May 19, 2014

Diabetes and transparency: Can kids handle seeing diabetics check their blood sugar and take shots?

As a nanny and a babysitter, I constantly deal with the issue of whether to let kids see me taking care of my diabetes: checking my blood sugar and taking injections.

I feel like this is a touchy issue for a lot of parents, but I could be wrong about that, as I have found some parents to be much more accepting of it than I had expected.  The family I nanny for part-time is totally okay with me checking my blood sugar and taking shots in front of the kids, and has been since the very beginning (I've been taking care of those kids for two and a half years now).

Other parents, I'm not as sure about.  I've been babysitting for a little girl, now three and a half, since she was just barely two -- and I'm finally thinking about asking her parents if they are okay if I check my blood sugar and take my shots in front of her.  It's definitely much easier to monitor my diabetes when I can do it in front of the kids, rather than slipping into the bathroom for a minute or two.

With another family I work for, the one I've worked for the longest, the oldest kid saw me taking a shot when he was younger, and I've done it in front of all three kids ever since.  All the kids who are familiar with my diabetes, but him especially, have had plenty of questions for me.  They want to know what my blood sugar should be, what the insulin does, whether the finger poke and the injections hurt, and so on.

The reason why it's been on my mind is because over the weekend, I took a shot in front of some new kids -- kids a friend of mine babysits -- and got a lot of questions from the younger child.  I answered all of his questions matter-of-factly, even when he kept saying, "You're not going to do it to me, right?!"  (My answer to that was, "Of course not!" and then to explain that insulin would be very bad for him, and I would never do that to anyone.)

I actually think it's good for kids to see me taking shots every day -- and not getting upset or fussing about it.  Getting shots are a fact of life for kids, and I've always thought it's a good thing for them if someone can demonstrate that it's not a big deal.  Plus, I've always thought it's good for kids to be able to ask questions and get straight answers about things like that.  I don't sugar coat anything when I answer their questions -- I explain things as scientifically and as carefully as I think they are able to handle.

What are your thoughts?

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