Dealing with Bipolar Disorder in Kids: Helpful Tips for Parents

by Jason on October 9, 2011

Dealing with Bipolar Disorder in Kids: Helpful Tips for Parents

Is your child going through strange mood changes? Do you notice that he or she is very excited sometimes and sad and down other times? Do these changes affect how he/she acts at home and at school? Sure, all children go through mood changes, but not all of them go through severe changes.

If you suspect that your child may be bipolar, then you need to learn as much as you can about the condition so that you’ll be able to help him or her. The good news is that there are plenty of things parents can do to help their children.

What is Bipolar Disorder in Kids?

Bipolar disorder is also known as a manic-depressive illness. People with this disorder go back and forth between their extremely happy “manic” stage and their extremely sad “depressive” stage.

The first thing you need to do is realize that it’s a real mental illness. It’s essential that your child receive some sort of treatment. Treatments include medication, therapy, alternative remedies, and natural treatments. Since the adolescent’s personality changes, the type of treatment he/she receives changes as well. For instance, an anti-depressant will help during the depression stage, but not the manic stage.

Why is it So Serious?

It’s extremely important that you help your child find the right treatment method. If left untreated, a bipolar disorder can be very dangerous. During the manic stage, a child may exhibit wild, dangerous behavior without stopping to think of the consequences. During a depressive stage, the child may turn to substance abuse or even self injury. This, sadly, isn’t all that uncommon for teenagers with bipolar disorder.

What Can You Say to Help Your Child?

Be careful how you act around a manic-depressive adolescent. Here are a few suggestions of what you can say to help him/her:

• “You are not going to suffer alone! I am here for you.”

• “Your life is very important to me.”

• “Even though you may not realize it right now, the way you are feeling will change for the better.”

• “I understand that you have a real condition, and that’s what is causing you to experience these thoughts and feelings.”

• “I know that I don’t know exactly how you feel, but I do care about you and want to help in any way possible.”

• “I am always here for you. Feel free to tell me whatever you want. I will have an open mind.”

How to Help a Child or Teen with a Bipolar Disorder

Experts believe that a combination of medication and long-term therapy can help adolescents with a bipolar disorder. There are ways that parents can help too.

• Keep track of your child’s mood swings. Create a chart and write down how they feel every day. Look for a pattern so that you’ll know when to expect a behavioral change from them. This way, you won’t be taken by surprise when they start acting differently. It’ll be easier for you to offer them help and support.

• Keep a routine in your household. Children with this disorder can benefit from a daily schedule. They need organization and consistency in their lives, whether they are in the manic or depressive phase. Do whatever you can to reduce stress in the home.

• Help them find social support. A child with bipolar disorder feels isolated and lonely when they’re in the depressive stage. When they’re in the manic stage, they might become socially inhibited and hang out with the wrong types of people. Help them to find healthy support with family as well as peers.

• Encourage them to work on creative pursuits. This could be drawing, painting, writing, poetry, dancing, etc. If your child has an interest in music, get him/her piano or guitar lessons. A creative outlet can be very therapeutic for bipolar children.

Dealing with bipolar disorder in kids requires patience and understanding. No matter how frustrated they make you feel, you still need to be patient if you want to help them.

Your child CAN overcome their bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety faster than you think. Click below to read about the child anxiety treatment system professionals trust!

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