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11 year old son and diabetes rebellion

My 11 year old son was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 5.  On and off since he was 7 or so and a lot lately he has been having trouble eating.  He will start to get a stomach ache about an hour before eating and will let us know that he does not feel well.  He will fight eating by pouting and looking sad.  We have given him the choice to eat what he wants at his specified times with us only making sure that he has the right number of carbs.  This has helped only a little.  He has problems eating all the time.  If he is having fun and it is time to eat he will still get a stomach ache.  He is not an angry person and not taken to violent outburst.  Are we experiencing the first signs of rebellion?  We are a little worried that he is starting to have an eating disorder on top of the diabetes or that he is starting a habit that he will not be able to break. He has also been dropping his insulin vials often(breaking them from time to time.)  Is this part of it too?  What can we do to help him through this and not make matters worse?
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Avatar universal
Speaking only as a mom, not a doctor, I have seen time and time again that stomach aches in children (certainly in mine!) are often triggered by stress. Is he on a pump, or does he have to give himself a shot before he eats? Even if he is on a pump, he is probably testing himself before every meal, and I know my daughter dislikes the testing more than the shots (the finger pricks hurt more than the shots). The stomach aches could be an involuntary stress reaction to having to deal with his diabetes and the discomfort of testing.

From your message it sounds like he is on a schedule with his eating. He may be feeling too controlled by the disease. One small thing to try is talking to him and his doctor about adding some flexibility to his eating schedule. My daughter now has a great deal of flexibility (although not when it's family dinnertime or lunch at school), and that helps her feel in control.

I would also consider consulting a therapist. Rebellion against diabetes is perfectly normal and to be expected; thoughtful guidance and perhaps even professional help could help him negotiate a rebellious stage and get back on track.

Good luck with this. As for dropping insulin vials, I wouldn't worry too much about that-- perhaps it's a sign of rebellion, but it could easily just be the life of a typical 11-year-old boy.
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Avatar universal
Hi  I saw your question and thought about myself when I was younger.  I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 10.  I am 35 now, healthy two kids, happy.  At that age I wasn't always happy.  It is a hard age when it seems as if everyone else is healthy and doesn't have to worry about having a disease, giving insulin worrying about eating or not eating.

You sound very caring and very in-tune with your son.  I think that is good.  I had a lot of trouble with food and was bulimic starting at age 16.  I read things now that say that it isn't abnormal for eating disorders when you are diabetic-it so focused on food--carbs, portions, weight it can make you obsessed.  My poor mother probably had a lot of the same feelings as you do.  She tried not to be too intrusive, yet I don't think she knew exactly what to do.  She did her best, but I think I should have talked to someone, like a therapist or other teens with my same situation.  I did not want anyone to know I was diabetic, so I made it very hard for my mom.  I think society is much kinder now-more diabetic awareness. That is not to say the disease is any less hard to deal with.  

I guess my suggestion is to keep up with what you are doing, but maybe make an appointment with someone for your son and you too, to talk to.  I would go to JDRF.org and see what it says about what you are dealing with-it is a great information resource.  Find out about diabetic camps or groups where your son is not the odd man out, but just like all the rest.  
I don't know if this helps, but I wanted to reply because it sounds familiar to me.
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Avatar universal
I'm another volunteer and would like to add one suggestion to the good insights already posted.

When you find a counselor, cosider a family counselor in addition to one for your son.  Often, all previous family dynamics are disrupted when one child has a chronic illness and there may be issues that are unwittingly contributing to your son's stresses.

If your son knows no other children with diabetes, and if you don't know other families locally that can offer support, I'd encoruage you to check in with our sister project: JDRF's Online Diabetes Support Team (ODST).  Also staffed by volunteers (some of whom volunteer here, too), when you log in there you'll be in touch with a someone who can help connect you wth a local family or other resource.  It's a wonderful way for your whole family to feel support and encouragement.  Visit www.jdrf.org.  Look in the left-hand column for the link.  (It's in a section called Newly Diagnosed, but it's for all of us ... we just try to be especially welcoming to folks who're in the initial scared stages of dealing with diabetes.)

You're a wonderful mom to be tuning into your son's emotional as well as physical needs.  For most of us, the emotional growth is at least as great a challenge as the relentless routine of diabetes itself.

Just to encourage you, tho', lots of us here are "long timers" and are now healthy & beyond the rebellion.
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Avatar universal
Hi, I'm not a doctor, but I have had diabetes for 18 years. I was diagnosed at 9 years old but have only really come to terms with my diabetes during the last year. It took me this long to realise that diabetes is easy, it's life that's hard! Your son is blessed to have a mother who recognises how important your emotional wellbeing is when you are diabetic. Please don't worry too much about rebellion, it is a natural stage of the acceptance process, I am yet to meet a diabetic who hasn't had feelings of rebellion towards the condition in one form or another. My advice is to talk openly with your son about his feelings and most importantly let him know that it is ok to be angry or sad or whatever about being diabetic and that he shouldn't feel guilty about his acts of rebellion. My problems started with accusations of 'cheating' and 'lying' which were all just negative terms for my natural rebellion, this caused huge feelings of guilt which grew into secrecy and self loathing (including eating disorder). I now suffer from many complications as a result, please don't be scared by my story, you have time on your side. I agree that therapy is useful and a loving and most importantly, non judgemental, accepting family is key. Also understand that other issues in your life tend to surface in your diabetes, sometimes causing you to miss the real problems. I'm sure that you'll both get through this difficult time just fine, God bless, Kerry
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