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Parenting Success... Initial Stages of Diagnosis and Beyond

discipline and parenting with type 1 diabetes
This is part of the series Parenting Success: Seven Steps to Navigating the Initial Stages of Diabetes and Beyond (by Michael Watts, Assistant Professor at Mount Royal University and former Medical Social Worker at the Alberta Children's Hospital).

If you have not done so already, we suggest reading the following as background information:

Introduction to the Seven Steps of Parenting Success
Step 1: Respect
Step 2: Structure
Step 3: Expectations
Step 4: Boundaries

Step 5: Discipline

Discipline is synonymous with teaching.  When a child displays a pattern of making unwise decisions, it is the job of the parent to control certain areas of the child’s life, via teaching/discipline, until the child can prove he has grown from the experience and is ready to resume the age-appropriate freedom he was once afforded by his parent.

Discipline (or teaching) can include many styles:
  • An open ended discussion which includes: the parent verbalizing her disappointment, uncertainty, frustration or anger at the SITUATION and not at the CHILD; requesting clarification around what influenced the child to do what he did; and using teachable moments (e.g. role play, role reversal, etc) to thoroughly explore the issue.
  • The taking away of privileges, or “prized possessions”, especially those that parents feel distract the child on a consistent basis (e.g. cell phone, iPod, iPad, video games, driver’s license, lap top, etc, etc.)
  • Limiting the amount of extracurricular activities the child is involved in until he can prove he is responsible enough to resume those activities.
  • Applying natural consequences. (e.g. If a child is not willing to test sugars prior to going to a movie with a friend, the child does not leave the home until he tests, even if it means missing the movie.)

Although not the most attractive part of parenting, and although the child will never verbalize that he appreciates it, discipline is an essential component of parental purpose; it is essential in the child’s growth in areas such as mental, emotional and managing responsibilities. Discipline is an investment in the child’s character, integrity, values and beliefs; children (often unconsciously) find comfort in knowing that their parents love them enough to correct them.

Step 6: Follow-Through &

Step 7: Consistency 
consistency and parenting with type 1 diabetes
I often use the metaphor that a family is like a successful sports team. In the history of sport, the perennial championship teams have one thing in common: great leadership! Great leadership does not mean doing things right 100% of the time; however, it does mean utilizing and building upon strengths, while recognizing and making plans to enhance limitations.  

In order for all the other ingredients of parental success – respect, structure, expectations, boundaries and discipline – to work, parents have to follow through with consistency. Following through with consistency takes time, motivation, energy and effort.  For example, it takes a lot of parental fortitude to stick to a natural consequence (e.g. no movie because the child refused to test) or remembering to consistently apply consequences when a child makes either wise or unwise choices.  Once follow-through and consistency are routinely adopted into the parental framework, family relationships are likely to be enhanced, parents are likely to develop more patience with their child, and the overall process of striving for great leadership can provide the parent with a new sense of parental purpose.


Any questions? Comments? Feel free to Contact Us.

The above information was written by clinical staff of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic.

This material has been developed from sources that we believe are accurate, however, as the field of medicine (in particular as it applies to diabetes) is rapidly evolving, the information should not be relied upon, as it is designed for informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional.
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