Son Giving Himself Shots

Hello my diabetes comrades!
My 12 year old son is 8 months into his diabetes diagnosis and recently has been struggling with taking shots every time he eats carbs. He is home alone with his brother a couple hours a week while I am at work and also roams about the neighborhood with his friends and during these times wants to eat carbs. As a preteen, I want him to be able to walk into this burgeoning independence but not at the cost of his health. When we discussed this issue, he said, “I just want to be a normal boy. I want to be able to eat with my friends when they eat.” We have been working towards him giving himself shots. My question is, at what age can a kid give themselves shots without a parent present? I would request that he calls me and works through the carb count and correct dose over the phone if I am not there, but this seems fine to me. Am I missing something? Does this seem like too young of an age to give himself shots without an adult present?
Thanks in advance,

Hi Lucy

Insert girl for boy and my daughter said the same thing. She is 11 and is 14 months into her diabetes diagnosis. She struggled for a long time wanting to be “normal” because she knows and remembers what it was like to just eat and not worry about carbs or finger sticks or insulin, etc. She did catch on to the concept of how to count carbs and dose herself with insulin and take her own blood sugar rather quickly even if she didn’t like it. I believe that the fact that I usually hurt her when dosing insulin led her to do it herself…Mommy, you’re doing it wrong! was her frequent complaint. We are now at a point where I trust her to do it all on her own for the most part. Although there are times when we are out doing something fun where I feel like I have to remind her to check her blood sugar. I believe that you will soon get to that point. Don’t worry and try not to rush him. He is dealing with it all in his own way. Twelve is certainly not too young in my opinion, but you know your son and when you feel you can trust him. Having him call and talk through it is an excellent idea. Hang in there mom, it sounds to me like you are doing just fine. :wink:

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Hi @lucyinthesky827, he can give his own shot as soon as he can give his own shots. I think I was 12. I would never think of injecting in front of my friends, just a thought, would it be crazy to think about a pump? That’ll allow him to easily bolus for carbs anytime and be very discreet about it. I like that about my pump.

Hi Lucy @lucyinthesky827, sure he wants to be a “normal boy” and that should also be your desire too - IMHO.

I’m assuming that he has the wonderful convenience of having an insulin pen with rapid-acting insulin at his disposal, that he is a “little bit more than reasonably” responsible boy, and that he can fairly accurately count carbohydrates and then calculate an insulin dose. (It is said, that kids with T1D are better doing this simple arithmetic in their heads than their peers.) If my assumptions are correct, there isn’t any reason that he should not be able to take care of himself - yes, at the beginning, for your comfort, have him call you before injecting.

I don’t want to sound cavalier, but if your son is going to live a long, full and active life he will need to able to do this necessity and the sooner you begin to let him exercise responsible independence the better off he will be. It may be wise if he has a close friend or two with whom he regularly hangs out to be able to also calculate an insulin dose.

Out of curiosity, why havent you looked into a pump? @littlelaurawells

If you look up “friends” in the forum search engine you will find lots of people, fairly newly diagnosed, looking for friends in their age group. I wouldn’t recommend sharing personal email or phone numbers in posts like this on the site - where anyone can read them - but people can send private messages to each other by clicking on the person’s name. As with any online communication you have to be cautious - people may not be who they claim, even on this site - but it is a way for him to connect.
Also, there are summer camps for kids with diabetes. He’ll make friends on insulin just like himself so he’ll fit right in rather than feel like he stands out, and he’ll have a chance to check out the various pumps and CGMS if he’s not on board with them yet.

Thanks for the responses! We don’t have a pump because insurance won’t cover one for him. Also, so far my son hasn’t seemed shy about giving himself a shot in front of his friends so hopefully it will stay that way! My thought also was if he feels comfortable with it and I feel comfortable with it, why not let him start to take over responsibility as soon as it fits! I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t overlooking something. Thanks so much!!

Those are good reasons, Lucy @lucyinthesky827 for not jumping into a pump. In my opinion, a pump is NOT a solution for everyone and it has been well proven that diabetes management can be more effective without a pump.

That said, I have found a pump very convenient for making frequent additions of insulin and it does conserve body ‘real estate’. I used the injection method for 47 years before beginning with a pump primarily to change from about 2,000 injections every year to about 365 pump infusion-set placements. During my early days of insulin therapy the insulin needles were the length and width of a 3d nail [24 gauge 1 1.25 long] and never sharp turning areas of my body into heavy leather and now not suitable for injections;very unlike the the wonderful short, sharp insulin needles we now use. My HbA1c was lower before I began pumping but right now I will put-up with the higher, but an acceptable 6.2 A1c for the convenience of now only needing to tell Control IQ a carb count and staying in range most of the day.

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My son was diagnosed early at the age of 7. He was giving his own shots at home within the first 6 months with an insulin pen. He would calculate the carbs and do the math and I would just double check with him before he dosed. At first I would have him do them at home in front of you and do the calculations. Once you feel he is ok with this I would have him check in with you in regards to the math just to be sure especially if he is using a CGM.
The pump has been a life saver for us as far as shots go but my son still checks in with me about the doses before he administers them if he is not with an adult. Perhaps you Endocrinologist can talk to your insurance explaining the need for the pump is a medical need and you can also try calling the pump manufacturers, sometimes they work with you. Good Luck and the desire to just be “a normal kid” doesn’t go away unfortunately but making sure his friends know what to do if he has a low would be helpful. Sorry i couldn’t be of more help.

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My son was also diagnosed at the age of 12. His training and our training were one in the same. He took control of his own injections right away and started using a pump within two months. All 12 year olds are different (I teach middle school.) If you, and he, feel that he can handle the responsibility, go for it. He should be able to go where his friends go and eat what his friends eat. He IS a normal 12 year old boy who just has the added pressure of dealing with a crappy disease. Best of luck!

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I know times have changed. But in 1980, I was ten years old and had total control over shots.

When we had sleepovers, everyone wanted to see the show. Your mileage may vary, and I can’t speak for you or your son. But getting him in the game and getting him comfortable with making wise decisions might make the next few years go a little smoother.

Good luck and best wishes.


I was 7 when I started giving myself shots and finally got pump when I was 27. I have a 10 year old daughter and she’s totally done pump herself for the last year she carb counts and changes her own pump. It’s very important for young children to know and learn how to control their own diabetes as they will have this the rest of their life. So the better they understand the importance of doing it their self the better it is for them in long run. Plus it’s good for them to feel independent it makes them more secure about their diabetes you never want them feel ashamed of having it plus it’s sometimes important for their friends to know in case something was to happen at a friends house. Best of luck.

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I thought I’d give everyone an update.

My son was afraid of giving himself shots which is the main reason he had not done it yet, along with our endocrinologist advising against it in the months after diagnosis. But we worked towards it over the last two weekends and he is now totally giving himself shots!!! Right after he gave himself his first shot he said, “If you were me right now, would you feel more proud because you did it yourself or more happy because you could eat when you are out with your friends?” And I said, “I don’t know, probably equally both.” And he said, “EXACTLY. That’s how I feel! Proud and happy!”

He had a full weekend playing with friends around the neighborhood and took care of shots on his own, had awesome blood sugar and most importantly did not feel limited by diabetes.

Thanks again for all of your support!


Wow! That is great news! Sorry I got in to this conversation late, but I was about his age when I first gave myself insulin shots. I was diagnosed at age 2 1/2 and my parents gave me my injections for 9 1/2 years. I too, was scared to do it myself. Once I did, I wouldn’t let anyone else near me with a needle - - complete turn around! I’m glad to hear he has done it and is comfortable taking care of his diabetes himself. That is wonderful!!

Pam K.
T1D 55 1/2 yrs and counting!

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I may have the perfect answer for you! When my daughter was on shots, we used prescription lidocaine cream and a device sold on Amazon called the injectease. My daughter would not inject without it until college. Lidocaine on a Bandaid 10 minutes before takes the pinch pain away. Hope that helps