Saturday, March 29, 2014

Taking Diabetes to School

           Third and fourth grade students are young enough to think in simple terms, but old enough to understand basic and more complex ideas (Clark, 2003). Presentations should be brief - a maximum of 15-20 minutes (Joslin Diabetes Center, 2012). It is critical to the success of the presentation that it offers simple basic facts. More detailed information is better presented when children ask for it, such as in a question and answer format. This is the reason for the question and answer section at the end of the presentation.

Peer Pressure and Socialization

Addressing peer pressure is important because as younger children become adolescents, peer pressure becomes a more salient issue. Teaching children about being helpful and not hurtful to children with diabetes may result in a more compassionate approach during adolescence (Salamon, Hains, Fleischman, Davies, & Kichler, 2010). Most children and adolescents with diabetes do not have psychological problems that differ from children without diabetes (Delamater, 2007; Hema et al,, Salamon et al., 2010). However, teaching children to be inclusive and tolerant of children with diabetes and other chronic diseases may have positive effect on their ability to socialize more appropriately with children and adolescence with diabetes during adolescence.

Since Curtis-Taylor (2011) found fostering independence was important for children with diabetes, it seemed a particularly salient issue for other children to understand that children with diabetes are not victims of their disease; they become experts and prefer taking control by becoming independent in the management of their illness. It seemed essential to present children with diabetes as experts who can self manage. Engaging other children in feeling comfortable enough to discuss the disease with children who have it, might become empowering and an important component in fostering appropriate socialization for children with the disease. In addition, since children with chronic disease may have a tendency to experience social isolation (Delamater, 2007), learning to feel comfortable as experts about their disease may foster independence (Curtis-Taylor, 2011).

Age Appropriate Teaching

Teaching children at age appropriate levels is critical to learning (Feild-Berner & Balgopal, 2011). Engaging them in discussion and activities help them understand more complex concepts. It is especially salient to educate children on the controllability of Type II diabetes, and that what they eat plays a central role in health (Feild-Burner & Balgopal, 2011). Teaching children about healthy food choices should be fun with activities and pictures that engage them rather than bore them (Feild-Burner & Balgopal, 2011; Koch, Barton, Whitaker, & Contento, 2007). Educating elementary school children may not provide enough support to change the children's risk factors for diabetes. However, teaching them in younger grades provides a foundation that may help them understand the effects of obesity and may foster their desire and ability to take control of their physical health by making healthy choices that will prevent obesity (Koch et al., 2007).


Clark, C. D. (2003). Juvenile diabetes. In In sickness and in play: Children coping with chronic illness (pp. 6–42). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University.

Delamater, A. M. (2007). Psychological care of children and adolescents with diabetes. Pediatric Diabetes, 8(5), 340-348. doi:10.1111/j.1399-5448.2007.00318.x

Diabetes Research Institute. (2014). Explaining Diabetes to Kids. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from

Feild-Berner, N., & Balgopal, M. (2011). Knowledge is power: teaching children about type II diabetes. Science and Children, (3).

Hema, D. A., Roper, S. O., Nehring, J. W., Call, A. A., Mandleco, B. L., & Dyches, T. T. (2009). Daily stressors and coping responses of children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Child: Care, Health & Development, 35(3), 330-339. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2214.2009.00937.x

Joslin Diabetes Center, Inc. (2014). Classroom Presentation on Diabetes for Elementary School Age Children. Retrieved March 20, 2014, from

Koch, P., A.C. Barton, R. Whitaker, and I. Contento. 2007. Choice, control, and change: Using scientific evidence to promote healthful food and activity choices. Science Scope 31 (3): 16–19.

Salamon, K. S., Hains, A. A., Fleischman, K. M., Davies, W. H., & Kichler, J. (2010). Improving adherence in social situations for adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM): A pilot study. Primary Care Diabetes, 4(1), 47–55.

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