Children who suffer from bipolar disorder suffer from fits of mania and depression, making it difficult for them to control their emotion-driven actions. Handling a child who suffers from bipolar disorder often also proves challenging to their parents, as these individuals must adapt to their child’s unique behavior patterns. If your child is a bipolar sufferer, you can take some actions to help make his bipolar disorder easier for you both to handle.
Speak calmly to your child, regardless of how upset you may be. While yelling when you are angry or crying when you are sad is a natural response to stress, modeling calm behavior is vital to helping your bipolar child control her emotions. If you allow your emotions to show, you may only heighten her mania or depression. To ensure that you can speak to her calmly, take some time to settle down if need be before you approach her.
Focus on safety. When deciding which behaviors to tackle, first focus on those that put your child at danger. If your child is doing something that is going to result in injury, such as hitting something or someone, pursuing inappropriate relationships or having a fit near a busy street, deal with the issue immediately to ensure your child’s safety.
Allow your child time for manic or depressive episodes to pass before tackling difficult topics. Dealing with your child when he is in the midst of a high or a low phase can just exacerbate his extreme mood. Instead of beating your head against the wall by trying to reason with your child when he isn’t rational, wait for the your child’s behavior to level off, then discuss the things of concern that transpired during his mania or depression.
Praise often. Children who suffer from bipolar disorder struggle with feelings of despair and self-loathing, and often feel that they can do no right. Prevent this by praising your child, telling her how much you appreciate her and pointing out any positive actions or accomplishments. By doing this on a regular basis, you can help to counter your bipolar child’s storms of negative emotions and model a consistently positive alternative behavior.
Record information about your child’s symptoms in a journal. Write down the times and dates of your child’s manias and depressions, as well as anecdotal information regarding what happened immediately before, during and immediately after each episode. This information can help your child’s doctor recognize a pattern to his symptoms or potentially unearth some causes of manias or depressions.
Discuss the pros and cons of medication with your child’s doctor. While some children are well-served by medication to treat bipolar disorder, others are not. Explore non-pharmaceutical alternatives such as behavioral or talk therapy, and natural supplements such as fish oil, depending on your doctor’s recommendation. Before deciding if your child should be medicated for her bipolar disorder, speak to her doctor and weigh the benefits and potential drawbacks.