Parents' Attitude Affects Kids' Diabetes

Filed under: In The News, Special Needs, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Health

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Kids with diabetes need to regulate their diets, monitor their blood-sugar levels and take the appropriate amount of insulin.

They also need parents with the right attitude.

Researchers at the Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel find that parenting styles and attitudes play a big role in how well teenagers manage their diabetes.

Internal Medicine News reports lead researcher Maayan Shorer and her colleagues defined three parenting styles:

  • Authoritative. This is characterized by clear limits on the child set by the parents in a caring, noncoercive manner.
  • Permissive. This is characterized by few efforts by the parents to direct and limit the child's behavior.
  • Authoritarian. This is characterized by a coercive, harsh and punitive approach and parental attempts to control the child's behavior.
Researchers looked at 100 adolescents, as well as 79 mothers and 63 fathers, and found an authoritative approach, especially by fathers, resulted in kids doing a better job managing their diabetes. On the flip side, kids did a lot worse when parents were either permissive or authoritarian.

The worst results came when kids picked up on a sense of helplessness, especially among mothers.

There are several morals to the story, researchers tell Internal Medicine News. One of the biggies is that dads need to get more involved.

"Unfortunately, our clinical experience along with the empirical evidence suggests that compared with mothers, fathers tend to take a too-small role in their child's diabetes management and exert fewer efforts at monitoring the child," Shorer says. "We believe fathers should be more engaged in their child's routine diabetes care, and to do so, specifically, by adopting an authoritative stance."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.