My 12 yr old son is lying about blood sugars and sneaking food. HELP!

I am new to this website. My son is 12yrs old, he has type 1 diabetes and wears an insulin pump. He was dx'ed at age 2 and has been pumping for six years now. His A1c's have been awesome, in the high 5's to low 6's...that is until his last one a month ago which went up to 8. My son has been sneaking food, hiding the wrappers, not bolusing for what he sneaks, lying about blood sugars, saying he bolused or corrected when he didn't, the list goes on and on. I have spent the last ten yrs devoted to taking good care of him, trying to teach him how to live with diabetes and be a normal kid at the same time. I think I did a great job, but then again...maybe I didn't since he's now rebelling. Since he's gone on the pump, I've showed him that he can eat what he wants and when he wants, skip a meal if he wants, sleep in if he wants. I just don't understand why he is now starting to lie about having a high blood sugar or sneaking food and not bolusing. Both his doctor and I have explained to him the risks of what could happen to him should he continue to do this and he seemed to care at the time but he continues to lie and sneak. I've told him that if he's gonna sneak food to at least bolus for it. I've asked him why he lies about his blood sugars and he says it's cause I get upset when he's high. I've tried to explain that I get upset when he's high as a result of sneaking food, or not correcting when he should. I need some serious help. Tonight he told me at dinner that he was 237 so I had him correct and give a dinner bolus. Then three hrs later I go through his meter and it read HI, not 237. I don't know what to do anymore. I've taken his cell phone away, I've tried to reward him for good control or for him doing what he knows he should be like testing before meals, etc. Nothing is working. His behavior is getting worse. I'm about to take him off the pump, I just don't know what to do. He's gone to diabetes camp for two summers now, a week each summer and he does great for a month or so after and then boom, back to old bad habbits. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.

Tags: about, blood, food, high, lying, sneaking, sugars

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He actually started middle school this year, he's in the 6th grade. So this is the first time he's going to school with 3 other kids with diabetes. My brother is 33yrs old and he was dx'ed 3 yrs ago with type 1 but he isn't exactly the best role model and it's funny too because I see my son lecture my brother about how he needs to test more. So I know my son knows what he should be doing...why he isn't doing it is beyond me. I know I need to leave the anger out of it, it's so hard. I worked so hard to keep him healthy all these years and feel so let down now that he is doing such a poor job with is own management. I've talked with him many times of the consequences of his actions with poor control. Maybe he needs to see a therapist. I wish I had the answers...parenting alone is tricky with preteens but adding diabetes to the mix makes it so much harder. It also doesn't help that my ex husband is awful with caring for my son every other weekend. He doesn't re test my son after a high or low or check ketones when he should, figure carbs correctly, etc. I just want him to live a long and healthy life without all the complications that he risks developing if this behavior continues.
Thanks everyone so much for your kind words and advice!
I'm in my thirties now, but had the worst fights of my life with my Dad in my early teens over my blood sugars. He would become angry about me eating candy and having high blood sugars. My mother never judged me and would always approach my diabetes with sympathy and would help me try to get out of the situations I had put myself in. She also trusted me.

You need to begin fully handing the control of your son's diabetes to your son and find a way to leave anger out of it. Being a diabetic is quite frustrating and sometimes unpredictable, and dealing with an angry person while your blood sugars are high is absolutely no fun.

As a fellow parent, you have my absolute empathy.
Well, first of all, try consulting the information at the Behavioral Diabetes Institute website. This center has helped many of our members.

Secondly, as a diabetic since age 10, I think you're going about it in a way that is causing him more pain. I think it's hard for parents, but you MUST separate punishment/reinforcement from his diabetes. Do not punish him for poor control or lying about his snacks the way you would punish for lying about homework. It's a disease and it's hard enough. He's worried about being "blamed" for his blood sugars. He needs to know that his blood sugars and insulin reactions provoke no response from you other than to treat the blood sugar. It sounds to me like he's in a spiral of mismanagement in order to feel in control - similar to how an anorexic uses eating habits to feel as though they've mastered their hunger. He would like to be good, sure, but it's hard and he resents the help and intrusion. At this point, if he starts "behaving" and controlling his diabetes, he's on some level submitting to someone else's (your) will.

I think he would benefit from talking with a therapist or counselor when you and his doctor are NOT present. He needs a way to vent about his diabetes control without feeling like he has to defend himself.

And possibly, for a while, you should ask him to show you his meter after he looks at the number. Then give no indication of what the number means to you. Simply advise about what corrective measure he should take. That's it. No lecture. Let him sneak the snack.

Nothing ticks me off more than when I have a high and my husband responds (innocently enough) with "what did you do?" If I'm already high (which, as I'm sure you know, causes one to be hyper-aggressive), I'm likely to kill him. Numbers should NEVER be associated with negative feeling - high or low. Separate it from emotion and you and your son can start to regain control without the resentment, self-destruction, and fear.
Thank you so much for your advise. I'll check that website out for sure. I understand that I need to put my own emotions in check, his doctor has told me this too and in front of my son. I admitted I was guilty for having a poor reaction to a high blood sugar and since his last appt a month ago, I have made such improvement with not reacting to a high blood sugar. But when I come home this afternoon from work and see a bottle of juice (baby Gerber pear juice actually..I have an 8month old) sitting on the table in the living room and so I ask who drank one of the baby's juices? He says oh not me. So I ask my daughter, same response from her. So I go back to my son and tell him point blank, do not lie, you drank it, I don't care, I just need to know if you bolused for it. He said yes he did. Well when I see his meter reading HI a few hrs later, I know he lied and never bolused for the juice. I just don't get this type of behavior. He's not hurting me, only himself. I ask him, doesn't it make you feel awful to be so high? He says yes. But he continues to do it. I agree with you, he should speak to someone. I have a call in to the social worker at the childrens hospital where his endo is, hopefully she'll be able to help.
But how long do I just let him continue to sneak his snacks before I punish him for it?
Do you think he's competing for attention from the baby? Just a thought. They say even bad attention is attention.
I don't think so. He loves the baby and is always first in line to help out with him. Gosh, who knows...maybe he is? lol
I don't have an answer for you, Sarah, and I am so sorry that this is going on in your and your son's life right now. But I will tell you that a few months of stolen snacks and high blood sugars, though of course undesirable, can be recovered from as long as he can avoid DKA or serious hospital stays. I'll be the first to admit that that may be a reckless perspective, but it's been my life experience after 18 and a half years with Type 1.

I had been a poster child juvenile diabetic as a child. But I had a rough time in college and in the years just after beginning my adult life. I was told I was going to lose my eyes. Now, a few years later, I am committed to control, have an excellent A1c, and monitor my blood sugars religiously. I had been such a compliant child diabetic for years, even as a preteen and teen, but college was my period of rebellion with my diabetes. I was fine everywhere else in my life, but I had checked out to a large degree from this because I resented how much work it took. It wasn't until I met my husband and realized how the ups and downs were holding me back that I re-committed myself.

I would never suggest that anyone take a "diabetic vacation," but nevertheless, I think we all take them. Maybe it's tragic. But it's a chronic condition and there are times he's going to feel overwhelmed, different, or stressed. He's known this life since age 2. But now he's going into these middle school years and wants to be more like the other kids (whether he'll admit it or not). (I teach 7th-12th grade, so I have decent experience with this age group.) He's got hormonal changes, he's coming home from school hungry, and he's feeling like he's not a kid anymore. Of course he's going to sneak food. I am not a licensed therapist, but maybe you've got to find a way to allow him to sneak food without addressing it but ask him not to drink the baby's juice if he's going to choose a snack. Or heck, maybe he's doing that because he resents that his siblings can have stuff he can't or are getting attention he wants. I really think it would be worth it to get him someone unconnected to the family with whom he can speak about dealing with all of this.
Melissa has made some excellent points, and hopefully you'll get even more advice from those on the site who has dealt with this.

I've read on the CWD sites (and I highly recommend searching the forums and the "ask the diabetes team") that they recommend that you take over all diabetes care. It gives him a break and you piece of mind.

I'm sorry you are going through this. It's hard enough to care for my own diabetes. I can't imagine caring for a child with diabetes. I have so much respect for parents of children with diabetes. My heart and prayers go out to you.
It's worth a try for me to take some off his shoulders. I have been making him do his own site changes and he argues on/off about that with me. Other than that, I don't know really what I can do because he's doing this stuff like sneaking food and not bolusing before I get home from work. I just wish I could get through to him, that he can eat what he wants, heck he can drink the baby's juice, I don't care, he just needs to bolus for it. He has no limitations with eating as long as he boluses for it. I treat him as I do my other kids, no eating a half hr before dinner, that's diabetes or not, it's a house rule. I'm sure many moms have this same rule. :) I'm going to sit him down again tomorrow. I feel bad for yelling at him and punishing him and for not trying to put myself in his shoes and understanding better how he feels to always have to be so diligent with testing. I'm here to help him and support him any way that I can, I just expect honesty and not just from him, but from all my kids.
I'm so happy to have found this site, I've gotten so much wonderful advice and so fast too. Thank you all so very much! ((((hugs))))

Yeah, we all lose our tempers sometimes and regret it later. It isn't just that you lose it to lose love him and are concerned. So, stop and give yourself a brief hug for now. Then go on to practice whatever behavior you wish to select. I'm not going to tell you how you should feel about his behavior. .

Have you tried a real scare tactic? Taken him to visit someone with the "consequences" of poor control? Telling him about some real person that gave no thought to the consequences until too late? Maybe if you make it more than theoretical and more real, it would give him pause. I don't want to sound pompous, but I have a story that may help make it more real. If you wish to, I would be honored if you would go to my home page and read my profile. It's one that I am hoping will touch others and influence them to have courage and work through their issues so that they won't have to go through what I did. And, you know, it's one that I have to keep reminding myself of in order to get through the rough periods.

I hope that you have success in reaching him in whatever way you can. God Bless your whole family!!

Lois La Rose
Milwaukee, WI
As a former Assistant Scoutmaster I had worked with hundreds of boys in this age group. What is happening here is puberty. The boys are entering adulthood at a time when many observations are confusing and when rebellion takes place. They want to take care of themselves in their own way. Many times it is the wrong way. You can help lead them down the right path by example. It will take a few years and you will see a dramatic change in personality and confidence.

As far as sneaking food, don't keep it around for a while. Leave items in the fridge that are better for him to eat, like the fruits and vegetables. Make enough dinner for the family but don't have leftovers. Instead of soda leave unsweetened ice tea. Forget cookies and chips. You get the idea.

This may be a pain in the *** for a litle while for the rest of the family, but it does work. What doesn't work is reprimands and accusations. As he matures he will begin to realize his habits now will ensure a better adulthood. I do recommend you check his meter and download the info to examine with him. Meters don't lie. Show him where the trends are taking his health. He may need to sit down with a diabetes educator instead of a parent to get this work out.

I know Melissa already suggested it, but I can't recommend counseling enough. It's hard to find a mental health care professional who's knowledgeable about D, but talk to your son's endo and health care team to see if they can recommend someone. You need someone objective to give you some guidance on managing how you respond to these behaviors, and your son clearly needs someone who isn't going to judge him or punish him or get angry and frustrated with him.

Melissa already suggested BDI, but I know they're accumulating a list of mental health service providers who specialize in the psychological issues that frequently go hand-in-hand with diabetes. Give them a call or email them to see if they can recommend someone in your general area.

You might also benefit from reading Diabetes Burnout by Wiliam Polonsky. He's one of the doctors at BDI. It's a great book that might give you some insight into why someone abandons diabetes management.

One last thought. Your comments about how you worked hard to teach him to do the right thing as far as his D care goes remind me of arguments I had with my mom when I was a teen. She took it very personally that she had put all that effort into taking care of me and my D and I was just squandering my health by not checking my BG's or taking my insulin or eating properly. It was very counterproductive to lay that blame on my shoulders, as if I was doing something just for the sake of spiting her, because I already felt enormously guilty for just being a chronically ill kid that consumed so much of her time and energy. She should have gotten her own counseling apart from the counseling I got to deal with her grief and anger.




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