Now that Kaitlyn is 9 years old, we have decided to let her get her ears pierced. When we told her the news, she was very excited! Her older sister has pierced ears, and you could tell that Kaitlyn viewed the prospect of pierced ears as a very sophisticated “grown-up” milestone.

However, I did notice a little bit of fear in her eyes when I saw her look at her sister and ask her how badly it would hurt. Now, most parents would empathize, and I did to some degree, but my first thought was, “You poke yourself with needles all the time—this should be a piece of cake!”

After thinking some more about that exchange, I think perhaps sometimes I expect Kaitlyn to not be afraid of anything she might perceive as painful. In my opinion, I think I should encourage her to go through the normal process of feeling afraid and then feeling the satisfaction of overcoming her fears and growing from the experience.

In the case of her very sophisticated, grown-up milestone, the day of the piercing finally arrived. Kaitlyn was nervous, but she was her usual courageous self. She kept asking if it was going to hurt, and I was honest and let her know that it would pinch, but the pain would quickly go away. I also let her know that sometimes a little pain is necessary—in this case, it was the price she had to pay for having “big girl” ears. Well, we arrived at the place of potential torture, she sat down, they pierced her ears, and…she did great! I was so proud of her. There were hardly any tears, and the result was one proud little girl.

Even now, though, I wonder what other areas of physical discomfort I sometimes overlook because I feel that due to her diabetes, she should be “tough enough” to handle it without complaint.

Case(s) in point:

  • Getting shots/vaccinations at the doctor’s office: Believe it or not, insulin shots aren’t scary to Kaitlyn, but TB boosters are!
  • Dental appointments/teeth cleaning: Kaitlyn hates to have her teeth cleaned and is afraid of anesthetic shots (who isn’t?).
  • Having her hair brushed: I’m totally serious. I think she would take 50 finger pricks in a day over having her hair brushed in the morning.

These are only a few simple examples, but I have reflected enough to know that I need to allow her to feel normal childhood apprehension and fear, comfort her to the best of my ability, and help her to draw on her own experiences (which are more vast than many people five times her age) for courage. In that way, I can help her continue to be one incredibly tough little cookie.

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

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