Tips on teaching children to inject

Learning to inject as a child can be a pressured and stressful experience. Therefore it is vital to give every child living with diabetes the correct support to build confidence.

Firstly, we must recognise individuality and understand that each child will require different support. Some children will take a lot longer to feel confident enough to inject, keep reading for all my tips on how to overcome this!

Recognising when your child is ready

nerves - teaching children to inject

This depends on a range of factors, such as how old the child was at diagnosis, their confidence on diabetes control and their personality.

Some children will learn to inject immediately after diagnosis, and other children could have parents or carers injecting them until they are ready to inject themselves.

If your child has an overwhelming sense of anxiety at the thought of injecting, they are not ready. Making a child feel forced will make this a traumatic experience when it really doesn’t have to be!

Try to encourage your child to complete preparation activities (listed below), remove any sense of urgency and be as patient as you can be.

Preparation activities

oranges to inject

Preparation activities can be completed in the weeks and months leading up to the child injecting themselves.

This allows children to get used to the correct technique, build confidence and experience.

For younger children, JDRF have an injection teddy (called Rufus!) with patches over injection sites. This can be fantastic to ‘normalise’ the concept of injecting, and the teddy can make children feel like they have a buddy, preventing feelings of isolation. Having toys can also take some pressure off, and can be made into a game of taking turns. Click here to get your Rufus now!

Another useful tip I have is to use an orange or lemon to practice injecting into. These fruits have generally the same thickness of skin, and mimics the sensation of injecting a needle into yourself.

Finally, try and get the child to hold your hand while you are injecting them. You are still doing all of the work, it is just easing the child in slowly.

What to look out for when your child starts injecting

When your child is ready to inject, I recommend swapping over, having the child hold the pen and do most of the work, with your hand over the top for comfort. Again, this is slowly progressing from the last step and adding another building block to their confidence.

Another tip is to take it in turns to do injections, if your child has more anxiety in the mornings, it might be best for you to do the morning injection, and for them to do the lunch or dinner injection. Eventually the worry and anxiety will diminish as new routines establish.

Encouragement is vital at this stage, don’t continue to inject your child if they want to try to do their injections on their own!

Watch their technique as they start to take control, some children can forget to rotate injection sites, so gentle reminders will help to prevent injection site soreness and lumps.

Eventually your child will inject all on their own, which will be an incredibly rewarding and proud moment that must be celebrated!

Further support for children and parents

support - teaching children to inject

Your nurse and consultant team should absolutely be providing support, tips and information on making this transition.

If your child is really struggling, contact the team, or your GP for further guidance and anxiety management.

If you are struggling as a parent, my best advice is to find other parents going through the same situation. Have a look for Facebook support groups, or get into contact with your diabetic team and they can give you some contacts.

Thank you for reading Tips on teaching children to inject! I hope you found this useful and I hope this is a smooth transition for you. Be sure to subscribe for more content and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Supporting a child transitioning into secondary school while living with diabetes and Diabetes technology 101!

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