Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Diabetes and Discipline

It's hard being a first-time parent, even though it's something we (meaning those of us that make the plunge into parenting) must go through. Basically, you have to learn everything on the fly. Sure you have your ideas of how you want to parent, but when you add one little, but very distinct personality to the mix, those plans can go right out the window.

Now, add diabetes on top of it all, and it can be downright impossible. I'm talking about having to discipline your kids.

This may come as a surprise to you, but Elise is not the amazingly sweet, wonderful angel I make her out to be. Oh no, she has way too much of her Momma in her for that. And lately we have noticed that along with a couple of inches, Elise has grown a wee bit of an attitude to match.

People have told us all about the terrible threes, and I'm sure this is what we're dealing with when we hear her yell "no!" at us, or she doesn't listen, or the tantrums, the not sharing, the refusing to do what she's told... man, did my two year old skip a bunch of years and turn into a teenager when I wasn't looking? Should I hide my car keys and lock up the liquor?

The problem, as all you D-parents can attest to, is sometimes it's hard to tell if it's a "typical-toddler" issue, or a "diabetes" issue. Is her bad behavior because of a low or high BG? And how am I supposed to discipline her when I have to test her BG to rule it out? By the time I've done that, we've lost our "teachable moment".

For any other child, discipline would look like this:

-Child acts out
-Discipline child (for us, the first step is a time out, after a warning of course).

-Explain to child why what they did was wrong, why they were punished, and how they can make a better choice next time.

-Hug it out and go on your merry way.

With Elise, it's more like this:
-Elise acts out
-I wonder if she's just misbehaving, or if it's D-related

-I run around the house, looking for her meter

-Elise continues to misbehave

-I try to get her to wash her hands... she tells me no

-I lose patience and use an alcohol pad

-I tell Elise I need to check her BG

-Elise yells no and runs away

-I finally get her to listen and check her BG... normal

-Now why the hell was I checking her in the first place???

Okay, that may be a little exaggerated, but you get the idea.

Another thing I hate is how Elise has learned to use her diabetes as a stalling tactic, or when she's looking for attention. This usually comes into play at bedtime, when she'll tell us her tummy hurts, or that she's hungry (for her, these are signs of a low). She fully understands that this means we'll need to check her BG, and she'll possibly get a snack. With the introduction of Eileen, we can now show her that she's okay... but it doesn't stop her from trying.

I've tried to explain to her that she shouldn't say these things if they're not true (I've even read The Little Boy who Cried Wolf... she didn't get the parallel), but of course I'm not going to punish her for it. The last thing I want is for her to not tell me something because she's afraid of getting in trouble.

All in all, I'd have to say we are pretty lucky... despite having a strong personality, Elise is pretty quick to listen, and we usually don't have to go past the "warning" stage with her.
But I am feeling pretty beaten down trying to figure all this out.

So what do YOU do? How do you handle discipline and diabetes? Come on... help a rookie out and tell me your secrets!


  1. I HATE this part of diabetes! It's tough...I've errored both ways. I've disciplined Jada when she was low...thinking of course that there was no way that she could be low at that point, but I was wrong. I've just come to the conclusion that I need to check, then discipline, unless she's recently been checked and I know where she's at with her numbers.

  2. I have so been there!!! So hard to know: high?, low? or just three?
    What I have done in this situation is put my son in a time out and then go grab the meter and test. If bg is off, then after taking care of it, explain how the behavior is unacceptable and that I understand that it may have happened because he wasn't feeling well and talk about other ways of showing us he needs something. I often wonder how much I let my son get away with because I attribute his behavior to diabetes. Will be nice to here other D-mom's take on this. Good luck!

  3. Well, I am a rookie too and look forward to the comments on this one. But my one tip is that I consistently tell Isaac that "he can be high, he can be low, but he can not hurt others." I often assume he's low and hand him a small snack (even if carb free) just to stall him so that I can grab the meter, clean a finger check and proceed from there. I however, parent a little oddly and do not do time out or spankings but rather we talk. Sometimes our kids (together with an adult) have rest time to recoup after a wild moment, but usually we just hold the child and talk them through their feelings.
    I, too know of the stalling tactics. But let me tell you that my son who doesn't have d does the same exact things. He's ALWAYS STARVING right before bed. He then has phantom belly aches and head aches, he needs another drink of water, he has to go pee...oh the list goes on. For a while we tried the three ticket system where at bedtime he was given three tickets to use to "get out of bed"...if he got up for a drink he had to give a ticket, if he got up to pee he had to give a get the pic. We made it very clear that he could ALWAYS get up for emergencies, but for other things he needed to surrender a ticket and once the tickets were up he had to stay put until the morning. Just a little thing that worked for our big negotiator :)

  4. First off - how refreshing to learn that someone elses kid isn't the "Angel" that everyone else is thinking they are. I don't know if you have picked this up from my blog, but Joe can be a little (well ALOT) STUBBORN!!!

    The behavior thing is TOUGH. I remember once he had a FULL, DOWN AND OUT MELT DOWN in full snow gear right after 3 feet of snow was dumped on us in a blizzard. He pulled the "limp noodle" on me and I had to carry his carcass to the van, while trudging throught the snow...then he magically turned his body into a stiff 2X4 so that I was unable to make him sit in his car seat and buckle him in - UGH...I then stated to him in a sharp voice "YOU BETTER HOPE YOU ARE LOW BUDDY" - guess what his # was? Yep, you guessed it...a PERFECT 113.

    I don't think there is an easy answer for this one...I think we always need to check for a low to ensure they are safe...but we do need to make sure that they don't start using "d" as an excuse for behavior. Obviously if they are low, they aren't totally in their right mind. Joe has had some lows where he is down right out of it and barracading himself in bathrooms at school etc.

    As far as the night-time daughter did it too. Joe did it, using "d"...every single night as he was getting tucked in he would state "I feel LOW"...we would check...sometimes he was, sometimes he wasn't. This did seem to self-resolve once he hit 6 years of age.

    Joanne...I hope this is, my friend, are a terrific pancreas and mother!!!

  5. Oh boy, what a question! We struggle with that here. I have a nephew with chronic renal failure who receives no discipline at all because his mom feels bad about all he has to go through. Bad, bad situation! Here is my take on it....the world is not going to cut our children any slack because of their diabetes. If they are low, if they are high, doesn't matter. The behavior expectations are the same. Our children are getting old enough that they can start recognizing when they are low or high and can ask for a snack or a drink, whenever it's needed. Therefore, regardless of blood sugar, discipline is administered no matter what the blood sugar is. Sounds mean and cruel maybe, but for us, I think it's necessary. If I'm concerned about a blood sugar, I'll check it as soon as the timeout is over. TOs are only 3 minutes long in our house at the moment and it's most likely going to take that long to find the meter! As for snacks at bedtime, Lily gets one just before bed. If she tells me she's hungry or needs a snack after I've put her in bed, I test her blood sugar. If she's low, she gets something for that. If not, no snack and all she's gotten is an extra finger stick. I figure she'll eventually get over the looking for attention or extra food at bedtime if we just treat the lows and never give in when she's not!

    Joanne, you're an awesome mom. Lily is never as sweet and innocent as she appears to be either! Seriously, my girl has some major sass in that little body of hers!

  6. Well...all I have to add is a confession: YES my son gets away with more because of D. I even tell his Dad, "but he has a broken pancreas!!!" lol

  7. My son was dx when he was 15months old and he is now 9yrs old. His Endo gave me the BEST advice when he was 2 and going though a difficult phase. She asked me "do you want to raise a 'monster' with diabetes or a 'child' with diabetes?" That had a big impact on me. We do not let him get away with any misbehavior regardless of blood sugar. No hitting is allowed, if you are angry go to your room and pull yourself together. If you are low, eat a snack and apologize if you hurt someone. If you are high, take insulin and apologize if you did wrong. The world is not going to cut our children any slack for blood sugar related moods. We let our son know that while it sucks to feel "off" from a bg issue, it is still not ok to be disobedient or mean or whatever behavior is happening.

  8. I am not a parent of a CWD but I was a CWD and I can totally remember manipulating my grandparents with my diabetes. I honestly can't remember ever being punish undeservedly so whatever my grandparent did they must have done right, but I do remember a stranger spanking me and my grandpa calling the police. We were in Las Vegas, I was 9 years old and I think we had gone to see Lance Burton. They let me order a "virgin" drink and it sent my BG sky high, which I am sure they expected. While we were waiting for a taxi I was whining about something and stomping around (my BG was also around 450) and this woman tells my grandmother that she needed to learn to discipline me, then proceeded to spank me. Seriously total stranger. My grandpa was livid and he called the police, while my grandma explained to the women that I have diabetes and was "very sick".

  9. So in theory, we start with a warning too, and if it escalates into a time out situation, then we take the teachable moment while it's there, briefly let him know it isn't acceptable behavior and why, and put him in time out. Then I run and grab the meter, test him, and treat if necessary, or else roll my eyes- because lately, he's at his orneriest when he's perfectly in range- and then when he's being sprung from time out, we talk in more detail about it (now that I know where his BG is).
    For us, the bottom line is that even if he's feeling poorly, we still expect the same standards of behavior. I might go easier on him, but if he gets agitated and pushes Peyton - high, low, or normal, we still expect an apology because it's still wrong.
    We've also started to give him "chill outs" when we know he is dropping or is high as a preventive measure. If he's being a pain and we know he can't help it, he gets to go kick it in his bean bag chair with a book or his etch a sketch. Sometimes it helps.
    I say all of the above "in theory" because you know us and I'm sure you've witnessed one of the many moments when all of the above goes wonky and it all flies out the window.
    You're doing fine. And she wouldn't do so bad to turn out like her mama. :)

  10. Story of my life for SO many years! I'm with the other is not ok, no matter how crappy you feel to freak out, or hurt a sibling (or parent) I would always give the time out right away and then go to find the monitor. I would go in and check their sugar...and if it was fine I would tell them so, and leave for them to finish the time out. If it was very low or very high I would give them a long hug and tell them I know that it is hard when you are not feeling well, but acting that way is not okay. And then I'd treat them accordingly and tell them to come out when they were feeling nicer.

  11. LOVE THIS POST!!!!!!

    Thank you for GOING THERE!!!!

    I'm going to soak up all these comments and bask in the glory of knowing I'm not alone.

    Keep up the great work, Jo.

    YOU. ROCK.

  12. This has been on my mind lately A LOT! I just do my best to talk with Addison and let him know certain behaviors are never ok even when it is D related. I also make sure I am very sympathetic to how he may be feeling if he is high or low and acknowledge that he may not be feeling well.

  13. I usually put him in timeout while I am getting the meter! Then check, and if his BG is "off" I deal with that, but he still gets his time out!

    Luckily, he is usually pretty quick to listen after a warning too.

    Good luck!

  14. Oh yeah - I can SO relate!!!

    Just the other day I caught myself saying to Sugar Boy (while on my way to get his glucometer) "You had BETTER be low, young man, cuz if you aren't you are in BIG trouble!"


    I have no answers... I am just as stuck as you are (also a first time parent, just trying to find my way to the other side) but I am LOVING all these comments and advice! =)

  15. OH! That is NOT an exaggeration! That sounds exactly like what goes on here... except with a "more experienced" misbehaving 9 year old. We also have the stall tactics a bed time... he usually has a 50/50 shot at getting something :)

    I have found myself stomping around the house(looking for said meter) as I growl the words "YOU BETTER BE LOW OR YOUR IN BIG TROUBLE MR". I think that is my way of letting him know that regardless of D... he needs to learn some control over his actions. I know he can't always control "the crankies", but its worth a try.

  16. I hear ya! It's so hard to tell. Usually if her behavior is not good, something is wonky with the bg. But not always. I, too, have said "you better be high or low or you are in big trouble!" We've also put her in time out only to find that she was low. Makes you feel like scum. It's so hard. If you find a magic answer, let me know!!!

  17. I wrote about this a WHILE ago too because I was feeling just like you are.

    It's hard... really hard. Tristan is a bit older now and he doesn't seem to act out as much now when he's low. He's able to communicate better.

    But when he was a toddler... acting out was often a sign of a low. When he was low, discipline went out the window... usually we would check his blood sugar before making any decision. If blood sugar was low then we would treat the low and explain to him that how he was acting was still not acceptable and we would ask him to describe how he was feeling. Once we did we would tell him that those are signs of low blood sugar and that when it happens he needs to tell us right away.

    If his blood sugar was within range or not low enough to justify the behavior he would get a time out. Plain and simple... even if the time out came a few seconds/minutes later :)

    Trust me as they get older... it does get a little bit better with the lows :)

  18. huradivI have just found your blog through a friend's recomendation. I have enjoyed reading your story. We too have a toddler with diabetes and a newborn, but I also have a 5 year old. Busy times around here! I loved this post b/c we struggle with so much of the same thing. I tell Noah often that low sugar (or high-he acts out then too) is an explanation but not an excuse for being naughty. He is always responsible for his actions. I am sure most of that goes right over his head, but one day he will get it! There have been times that I almost wish I could explain the bad behavior type of day we were having on crazy sugars just to find out that it was just him being 3. Anyway, when he is pitching a fit or acting up, we usually have to pry his clenched fists open, check a sugar, and then we deal with either the sugar or the behavior. It's so hard to know what to do and it makes me so sad that this disease can affect my kiddo's behavior so often.


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