Children with bipolar disorder are extremely influenced by their impulses and surroundings and is especially challenging with the additional challenges and stresses of daily life. Parents need extra care in how they manage the behaviors of kids with bipolar. Here are tips to help with that:
Keep a consistent schedule
Routines and structure help reduce stress and manage impulsivity. Ensure the child sticks to a routine with home activities, medication and sleep. A schedule can also help parents be more cognizant of changes to patterns in behaviors and mood.
Be aware of warning signs
Prevention is always best so if parents can recognize early signs, they can move quickly to help their child. Warning signs of an approaching manic episode may include, intense outbursts, extreme irritability or silliness, high with reduced need for sleep, hyper-vigilance to a task, racing thoughts or reckless behavior.
Give up your need to be in control
Bipolar disorder in teens causes an every day struggle for control. They have issues regulating moods, sleep and with appetite. It’s better to give them a sense of control instead of insisting the teen does what you want when you want, explains Kristen McClure MSW
Don’t expect more maturity from your child
Children without bipolar go through normal developmental stages; each marked by new skills and more maturity. However, this process of normal development could be disrupted in kids with bipolar, says McClure. “If your child is 15, but has been unstable in their illness for three years, they will not have the skills of a normal 15 –year-old.”
Pick your battles
Dealing with the behaviors of a child with bipolar is different than other children. Everything the child does incorrectly doesn’t need to be addressed, so choose wisely in what to let go and what to enforce. Constant reprimanding children with bipolar disorder, can increase the stress and trigger more acting-out behaviors.
Consistency is key
Because kids with bipolar usually have a need for control, consistency helps them understand the rules and gives them a sense of control. It’s normal for all children to test limits and kids with bipolar disorder are no different here. For these kids, it’s even more important for parents to be consistent in the discouragement and reinforcement of certain behaviors and to stick to it.
Don’t hold grudges
Kids with bipolar need help in learning how to resolve conflict and solve problems. If you two do get into an argument, do not give the silent treatment afterward or hold grudges. Afterward, when things are calm, you can discuss what happened and what you both could have done differently.
Take suicidal comments seriously
Bipolar disorder in teens puts them at risk for suicide. Parents must communicate with their child’s therapist and psychiatrist about any signs of depression or concerns they have about their child. This should be consistently monitored.
Create opportunities for expression
Children with bipolar are often gifted and have exceptional creative abilities; build on these strengths and interests. Start by creating opportunities for them to express their own thoughts and feelings in a creative outlet.
Seek your own support
You may need to process you own feeling s of anger or grief over the illness your child has. It’s not uncommon to also deal with your own depression or anxiety as well, often from the stress of the situation. Therapy can help parents of children with bipolar deal with solving conflict, modeling good problem solving skills.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community