If you have a type 1 son or daughter, or are a type 1 teen, I can probably bet that the most frequently said phrase in your household is probably “will you stop nagging?!” or something very similar.
I sometimes sit on a panel of diabetics to answer parent’s questions and one of the most prominent questions is “What do we do wrong?”. You don’t do anything wrong, you are brilliant! But I thought I would put some of my favourite answers (that are nit-picking) into a blog post!
Tip #1 – Ask how WE are.
It might seem a bit strange at first glance, but it’s a biggie. After a long day at school (primary or secondary – this especially applies to diabetics year 9 and up), it might seem cliche or cheesy to say “How are you?” or “Anything happen at school today?”, but it’s exactly the right thing to start off the conversation with. I dislike nothing more than to jump into the car, after escaping the stressful, difficult environment where blood sugars may well have gone haywire that day, and to be greeted with “how were your levels today?” An innocent question to you is the worst question the world to the teen. Trust me, we know you care and want to keep us safe, but show you care about us and our feelings more than some numbers on a screen!
Tip #2 – Blaming mood swings on blood sugars.
An extremely common symptom of high blood sugars is, of course, being snappy, snarky and generally being a grump. However, it is so frustrating when every single slightly snappy comment is met with “What! This isn’t you! Test!”. I understand that you’re concerned about my blood sugars and want to treat them as quickly as possible, but you’re much more likely to get a positive response if you wait a few minutes before simply asking what my most recent number was, giving you a reason completely unrelated to the tantrum to ask me to test.
Tip #3 – It’s not your fault.
After living with diabetes for a long time sometimes it won’t take a blood sugar, a sleepless night or bad set change to put us in a mood. It’s just the unpredictability and yet monotony of being diabetic that gets us down. We don’t mean to take it out on you or hide in our rooms. We still love you, you didn’t do anything wrong with helping us with the diabetes, we just don’t love diabetes.
Tip #4 – Wait for the high blood sugars to go down.
Yes, I may be high. Yes, maybe it was my fault I am. Yes, I already know that. Trust me, if I caused a high blood sugar I already know it was me. And I’m usually already kicking myself really hard by the time you find out. So, pleeeeaaaaase wait for the high blood sugar to go down before dealing with the causes however you choose to. I am highly likely to sit there rolling my eyes and ignoring you whilst I’m high if you attempt to talk about it then. Whereas if you focus on helping us and then confronting the issue that got me there, I will be a lot more responsive!
Tip #5 – Don’t tell us it’s easy.
I once timed how long it took to do a blood sugar test. It only took 52 seconds. Calibrating my CGM is only about 5-15 seconds. Calculating the carbs varies but will only take 2 minutes maximum (on average). And yet these tasks and others similar are not easy or quick when you simply don’t want to do them. I fully understand that they need to be done and they will help me control my diabetes. But they are a chore, an annoyance I don’t want but sadly need. So, rather than being confused as to why I haven’t done this ‘easy’ task and asking why I’m taking so long, – help. It just takes that small thing out of our hands. It just helps. Because yes diabetes has these huge tasks and implications but sometimes it’s the small things that get us down.
Tip #6 – Do carry on helping us.
Yes, I’m a teenager. Yes, I want to be independent. Yes, I don’t like asking for or accepting help however big or small. But do please carry on helping, without us asking you. Offering to set up a cannula change every so often, remind me to bolus and help plan temp basal rates for doing and out and about. These types of things are a nice gesture and it gives us a break. I already know you do so much for us, but sometimes we can’t do all of it all of the time.
I don’t want you to go away from reading this with a heavy heart, so please don’t. All us teenagers love you and appreciate everything you do for us and we realise how difficult it is for you as well as for us. So thank you.
Are you guilty of any of these? Do you have some of your own tips to help reduce nagging? Post your thoughts in the comments!