Teenage years are difficult at the best of times. For the teens themselves and their parents too! Throwing type 1 diabetes (T1D) in the mix can make things even more of a challenge. JDRF is thrilled to release a new resource for parents – the Teen Toolkit.
Families with teens have a minefield of changes to navigate – it’s all about becoming more independent, testing out new activities and perhaps even challenging boundaries. There are body changes, alcohol, friends, learning to drive and taking exams to contend with, just to name a few.
The Teen Toolkit aims to help parents of teens and pre-teens with T1D navigate through this new phase of life. The Toolkit is written in plain language, with input from parents of teens and credentialed diabetes educators (CDEs). The Teen Toolkit is adapted from the successful JDRF US version but has been specially updated for the Australian health system and culture.
Who would benefit from Teen Toolkit?
- Parents of pre-teens (ages 11-12)
- Parents of teenagers (ages 13-18) including those newly-diagnosed
Jane Barron is both mum to 18-year-old Isaac who lives with T1D and a professional educator. Jane came on board as a contributor for the Teen Toolkit with a drive to create an accessible resource to help other parents traverse the teenage years she’s just about to come out the other side of. Jane also mentors newly-diagnosed families through JDRF’s Peer Support Program and will definitely be recommending this resource when she is working with Mums and Dads of teens.
Jane says, “The Teen Toolkit is an amazing resource. I’m fortunate I had access to the JDRF US version when Isaac was navigating his teenage years. Often, we’d be wondering which of Isaac’s behaviours were teenage-related and which were diabetes-related. The Teen Toolkit helped us figure that out.”
“We had also been struggling with the issue of dishonesty around blood glucose testing and number accuracy. Parents can take this so personally and we’re no different. Through the Teen Toolkit, we were able to see a new perspective and gained insight into the challenges associated with being a teenager who has T1D. The practical tips have worked a treat! One main takeaway was that with testing blood glucose levels (BGLs), any number is a good number, as it provides information. It’s not about framing BGL numbers as either positive or negative.”
“In our experience, it was so reassuring to have the Teen Toolkit reinforce the ‘glass half full’ approach − in the scheme of their lives, the teenage phase is just a few years and with the help of the Teen Toolkit, it’s manageable. The way it is written, it’s just like one parent talking to another parent. It’s really refreshing.”
Jane says that the Teen Toolkit has been useful in providing a platform for difficult conversations: experimenting with alcohol, learning to drive, and sex. To the family, this means the conversation is ongoing and Isaac isn’t scared to call and ask for help if he ever needs it.
“He knows that he can always call straight away in any situation and we will problem solve it together”.
With learning to drive, practical tips from the Teen Toolkit helped the family set up a good routine for Isaac. He tests his BGLs before every time he gets behind the wheel, without fail, whether he was learning to drive with his parents or driving instructor and now, before he drives alone.
“The Teen Toolkit has been a vital resource in guiding Isaac through the teenage years. It has provided knowledge and understanding for us as parents and a platform for open and honest family dialogue. I am so grateful to have the Teen Toolkit as a partner in raising our son.”
A professional’s perspective
Gael Holters is a CDE RN Diabetes Educator at Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital. JDRF was fortunate to have Gael contribute to the Teen Toolkit also. Here, Gael explains how the Teen Toolkit will benefit others like her.
“This Teen Toolkit will make a wonderful resource for health professionals who work not only with young adults, but provide support for the main carers or parents. It will answer many of the questions that parents ask us when first transferring their young adult into an adult service,” said Gael.
Get the Teen Toolkit for yourself
Download your free Teen Toolkit here.