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10 tips to help support your teen living with T1D

JDRF
JDRF
September 14, 2022

Dr Adriana Ventura is a nationally registered psychologist who worked as a Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes (ACBRD) for six years. You can read part one of her advice for raising a teen living with type 1 diabetes here.

Read on for 10 tips to help support you child – and you – through adolescence and beyond.

  • Be aware that your teen may not feel comfortable discussing issues with you. But you should encourage them to discuss any concerns with someone they trust. Respect their wishes if they don’t want to talk to you, but show that you’re open to hearing what they have to say if and when they feel ready.
  • Download JDRF’s Teen Toolkit. This resource was developed by experts to help carers assist teens in their growth and development. It includes practical advice on day-to-day life with T1D and the typical circumstances families may find themselves faced with.
  • A helpful strategy when engaging with your teen is to use open-ended questions, to get more than a one-word response. It’s important to listen without jumping to give advice or a solution, as they may just want to be heard. Perhaps ask your teen what he or she needs from you. Sometimes problem solving together is necessary, but other times they just need to space to express their feelings.
  • Avoid lecturing your teen. This can be difficult, but lecturing is not going to give the best outcome. It can lead to feelings of guilt and failure, and perpetuate a teen’s feelings of not being understood. These feelings can have an impact on their sense of self and even negatively impact on management.
  • Try not to focus on the numbers too much, as your teen is not their numbers. Avoid using judgemental words like ‘good’ or ‘bad’ when talking about their blood glucose levels, especially as there won’t always be ‘good’ outcomes. Focus more on your teen displaying healthy behaviours, such as checking their blood glucose levels, and encourage them for their efforts.
  • Be mindful of your teen’s relationship with food. Like the above point, refrain from using ‘good’ or ‘bad’ terminology when talking about food.
  • The social world is important for your teen’s mental health and it’s necessary for them to do the things they find enjoyable. But boundary setting is important. If you’re finding there is conflict around this, speaking to a professional can help.
  • Take care of yourself and your own mental health – you can’t pour from an empty cup. Talk with someone if you need to!
  • If you’re interested in speaking to a psychologist, try searching the Australian Psychological Society website, based on your location. You might wish to choose one with ‘diabetes’ listed as an interest area. You can also talk to your teen’s healthcare team for their recommendations.
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