The teen years bring so many challenges. Parents of teens with diabetes know it can be hard motivating teens to manage their diabetes care. For my son, exercise became his motivation and I was blown away by the results.
Reviewing the diabetes logbook
We are still old school. I like to see everything written down. I want to look at everything in one spot and a diabetes notebook does this for me.
In the notebook, my son is supposed to write down what sort of workout he did and how intense it was. He is also supposed to note what steps he took to manage his blood glucose levels while he exercised and what the results were.
His blood glucose readings aren’t logged in the book but I take out his meter and scroll through the results. It had only been a few days since I had done this, but I was still a little nervous about what I would find. Teens never seem to be motivated to take care of their diabetes and I rarely see the results that I want.
Together we looked at the data
Because I never seem to see as much data as I would like, this is the moment when I normally cringe and want to cry in frustration. Ideally, sitting down together to analyze the data should be for discussing and learning. Normally, however, my son’s eyes tend to glaze over during this time. He will usually come up with strange excuses for missed readings, but this time was very different!
I noted the readings. We talked about the foods he ate before exercise. We talked about the food he had after exercise. He told me how he felt when exercising with various foods in his system. Together we examined missed readings and high readings. He was quick to point out his own errors and state that he needed to improve to get back to that guy he had been the week before. I was amazed.
He established his next steps
I told him he had done really well. I was impressed. He walked away with his own definition of what needed to be done and I did a small bit of tweaking based on my own feelings. Once again, the biggest shock was the feelings and the atmosphere when the process was over…It was great! There was peace.
It would seem that the key to motivating teens to manage their diabetes was to somehow have them have a vested interest in the outcome. He wanted to have his workouts count for something. This meant taking care of his blood sugars before, during, and after his workouts.
I was proud to see him taking charge of his own diabetes care
I was happy to see readings and more importantly that he was motivated to take care of his diabetes. He seemed to feel pretty happy with things in general. He had seen decent blood sugar readings and had a strategy to manage readings that were a little off.
During the entire process, there was no blood spilt. There were no tears. He was part of the process and was taking control of his disease.
Will it last?
In a week, he goes away and will be on his own for his diabetes care. This is normally a time when he applies the motto “When the cat’s away, the mouse will play!” I don’t know if this time will be different or not but I will hope. Giving him a reason to care about his own health seems to have made a difference.
I have been reading Moira McCarthy’s book on parenting a teen with diabetes. It seems to be giving me a better grasp of what will most likely happen while he is gone and why. I think I may be better able to handle it when he comes back…well maybe. I will try anyway! For now, I will just savor a really nice sharing of diabetes information with my son and the fact that he is currently motivated to manage his diabetes.
Download our free ebook on Navigating life with a teen with diabetes for tips and guidance on age-appropriate tasks.