Pre-teen rebelling against his recent disgnosis

My son is about to be 12 and he was diagnosed in March of this year. He does not want to eat so he doesn’t get insulin and stopped reporting to the nurse at school to check his sugar. He basically is acting like he does not have diabetes and does anything possible to not deal with it. Is this normal? will he eventually understand and accept it? Help!

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Hi Chrystine @Chrystinep1218, I don’t know if his actions are normal but he is somewhat the way I was - hopefully he will grow to the point where he will understand and take care of himself. I was diagnosed in the 1950’s and never told anybody at my highschool that I had diabetes and kept it well hidden - in those days we were supposed to live with one insulin shot a day [a new fangled insulin] so every morning before going to school we’d boil my syringe and needle and I’d be fine.
I expect that he feels as if he is the only person with diabetes and if he ignores it that diabetes will go away - I hid mine well during a short stay at college and then when working; a big mistake for which I’m paying now. I never wanted to allow diabetes interfere with my life and accomplishments. Eventually your son will soon accept that he has diabetes and that he controls his destiny - my eyes opened by the time I reached age thirty and since then I’ve grown.
Chrystine, I suggest that you be there for him, help him understand - from the background without being overbearing - what he will be needing to know to manage his diabetes. With care and understanding he will accomplish much and lead a long, full and active life.

Thank you so much. He is good when he is home, he eats and takes the insulin with no problem (some days). In school its different, at first he would go to the nurse, eat, get his insulin and now he rarely goes there. But he is in soccer and still does his normal things, so it is not like he cannot not enjoy life. I think that is exactly what it is, he thinks if he ignores it, it will go away on its own.

hi @Chrystinep1218, 11-12 is a tough age. same age I was diagnosed. old enough to know that things are different and may be different forever… young enough to not understand why he’s being punished and why for probably the first time ever, he can’t depend on his parents or doctors to cure him or make it go away.

I was angry at the world at this time. it passes. hopefully you have access to endos and certified diabetes educators that can help create a strategy that he can live with. hopefully you have access to some kind of therapy for his anger and struggle as his 11 year old brain wraps around what could look like a horrific nightmare to him.

grow out of it and understand, and even take care of himself?.. yes eventually. like @Dennis said, and like my experience, it’ll take some time.


This is so true. He is very angry at the world and is in therapy and we have a great team of doctors and social workers to help. But in the end of the day he still feels overwhelmed and angry. Hopefully as time goes on he will see he can do the same things he always does. Thank you

@Chrystinep1218 i have found that the 5 stages of grief are pretty much what happens: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. NO one gets to take a short cut.

The things that have helped me include fellowship and action.

In fellowship, such as participating in a self-help web site such as this one, it’s okay to be feeling anything you are feeling and the people that are here completely identify with your situation. There may be summer camps that specialize in type 1 diabetes near you, or other programs.

In action, I personally believe that doing something - doing ANYTHING is better than feeling sorry for yourself. a JDRF walk or ride, helping someone else, really anything will help him shed the feelings of hopelessness and stand in defiance to feelings of powerlessness, these things are very powerful in turning around and in putting the “new deal” in perspective.

good luck to you both

Hi Chrystine @Chrystinep1218. I was a little younger than your son when I was diagnosed and have been doing T1D for a long time (not quite as long as Dennis though). One thing that I benefited from in those early years (and since then) was interacting with other T1Ds (particularly near my age). You get to see other kids and see that you can be an active person and still manage your diabetes well. Where I got the most benefit was at summer camp. You might want to check out if there are any in your area - the America Diabetes Association site can help you see if there is one in your area if you are in the US. I expect diabetes associations in other countries also have this information. These organizations also have support groups that your son may be able to take advantage of.

He (and you) will work your way through this. It just takes a little time to learn. Good luck!

@Chrystinep1218 in going through the same phase, but I’m slightly older. My problem is that I don’t have anyone who understands what, I am going through