How stickers can help children struggling with type one diabetes
Children often struggle with daily aspects of Type One Diabetes. Insulin injections are painful, and the re-application of Omnipods, Dexcom G6 Sensors, or their Freestyle Libre can cause great anxiety.
The impact of type one diabetes on children is hugely complex, but for this article, we are just focusing on making their relationships with their devices a little bit easier.
It starts with cognitive associations.
When we touch a hot stove, we're taught not to do it again by the pain response. Our brain assigns fear to the stove to make sure we don't touch it again, and this is the result of millions of years of evolution.
It's the same with your child's diabetes devices. Your child can easily associate their devices with pain, even though they know they are there to help them and protect them.
For example, a child will associate their Novopen, Solostar pen, or even InPen as something that causes pain, and this is because of the needle.
They may also associate their Dexcom G6 or Freestyle Libre with pain and have a specific fear of the moment when you fire the applicator, again because of a needle.
We know that we can modify behavior by offering rewards or pointing out risks. Fundamentally, we do this to change the person's association with that particular event. For example, schools reward good behavior with a sticker and bad behavior with a time-out. Over time, the child becomes conditioned to do more of what is good and less of what is bad.
So it starts with their relationship with each device.
As parents, we understand that the Novopen and Dexcom G6 bring good to our children. They are incredible pieces of technology that deliver life-saving insulin and accurate blood glucose data. But if you're 5, and you don't quite understand this, it's just scary. We should note at this point that this article is to benefit younger children, and it might not apply to older children (all of our children are unique!).
Suppose we can change our child's perception of an insulin injection or CGM application. In that case, we can start to reduce the anxiety of the event because we gradually educate them and assure them that it is a good thing.
This is where device stickers come in.
We don't want to introduce sweets for injection compliance for obvious reasons, but we can introduce stickers.
Parents in the diabetes online community increasingly find that having a personalized or decorated Novopen makes the device more exciting. There is also the reward that after the Dexcom G6, Freestyle Libre, or Omnipod is applied, the child will get to choose what patch & sticker designs they want to put on it.
Some parents have reported drastic improvements in their children's compliance because children are focusing on the reward rather than the pain of the experience. It's changing their association with "injection time."
Particularly for the youngest of children, the impact of having an Elsa Patch or a Minecraft Novopen sticker is utterly mindblowing. It's hard to believe just how much of an effect these stickers make and how treasured they are to the child.
To see if this can help your child, you'll need to get a sticker. Type One Style stickers are incredibly well priced, but we are happy to send you a free one to test out with your child.
While some children won't react to stickers as much as others, we hope that most of you experience the overwhelming success that some parents have reported to us.
Please keep us updated!