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Facts About Children And Bipolar Disorder

Updated on August 17, 2016
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ICU Nurse in Children's Ward which was an exciting and challenging career. As a mother of two I look forward to sharing my experiences.

How A Bipolar Child Function In School Or In A Group

Most children have already accomplished several milestones before beginning school. They have attached securely to their parents. They have separated from them and have slept comfortably on their own. Like most children they just learned to negotiate certain social expectations accepting limits and basic interaction with people. Then the bar is raised again when the child must learn to separate from home at least temporarily and attach to teachers to a new set of social expectations and begin to manage peer relationships in a wider arena. Difficulty adjusting to school is especially true for a child who has had problems earlier developmental tasks such as feeling comfortable in her own skin or many children have some problems accepting limits. As they make the transition from home to school the bipolar child experiences them more intensely.

Intense silliness is particularly common when a child experiences anxiety. These behaviors make it hard for the bipolar child to enter the peer group.
Intense silliness is particularly common when a child experiences anxiety. These behaviors make it hard for the bipolar child to enter the peer group. | Source

Bipolar Child Problems With Peers

Problems with peers continue in later developmental stages but often make their first appearance in early elementary school. Children this age are just beginning to use rules of play and observe social niceties. Their impulse control is subject to frequent lapses. All children are occasionally disruptive and a child who is particularly out of control makes other children anxious and they can respond by withdrawing or driving the child away. Impulsiveness and difficulty with rules are magnified in a bipolar child. Intense silliness is particularly common when a child experiences anxiety. These behaviors make it hard for the bipolar child to enter the peer group. A bipolar child may experience panic if there is a sudden overwhelming flood of anxiety that is experienced physically as well as emotionally. It can appear differently in a child than in an adult so it sometime goes unrecognized. Children are also less able to describe their symptoms and may complain only of anxiety and an intensely uncomfortable feeling in the region of the stomach or diaphragm which they call a stomach ache. In a bipolar child however the standard treatment for panic disorder antidepressant can make matters worse.

The child must learn to separate from home at least temporarily and conform to a new set of social expectations and begin to manage peer relationships
The child must learn to separate from home at least temporarily and conform to a new set of social expectations and begin to manage peer relationships | Source

The Intensity Of A Bipolar Child

The intensity of a bipolar child often appears in the form of eager desires and impassioned demands. Harrowing struggles triggered by visits to a toy store or over electronic games are especially common. For this reason it is particularly important that you be ready to hold a limit to your child with his distress. The same techniques of limit setting at home still applies but now they are needed in public situations. In these situations it is important to know that the child is in distress. It is not the child's job to protect his embarrassment but rather it is the parent's job to help the child from frustration.

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Understanding your Bipolar Child.
Understanding your Bipolar Child. | Source

Bipolar Child And Sleeplessness

A more pronounced response to the normal rising and falling cycles of sleep the transitions back and forth between REM or dream and the deeper stage four sleep in which night terrors occur. Rather than becoming tired a bipolar child can become increasingly active and fight attempts to get him to bed. The combination of heightened sensory awareness and increased anxiety can also intensify fears of the dark and of letting go of mental control. This struggle against going to bed is more difficult when a child still has not mastered the earlier developmental task of accepting regular bedtime ritual which involves a parent accompanying them. ADHD more than not coexists with other disorders such as anxiety disorder and learning disorders. Parents and teachers need to act in unison to reward appropriate behavior in the preschool to school age child. Medicating preschoolers with stimulants can be called for if there are serious safety issues. Treatment with medication tends to be associated with more side effects in school age children the first option to treating the disorder is making dietary changes such as eliminating additives or supplementing with essential nutrients.

Bipolar Child In A Broken Home

A marriage is put at increased risk by the stress a bipolar child exerts. The difficulties a child innocently brings to a family are disappointment and conflict between parents. The conflicted child can provoke between herself and her siblings or between her siblings and her parents. This makes it even harder for Mom and Dad to cooperate with one another. It is not surprising that the bipolar child often enough finds herself in a broken home. A child with bipolar disorder has all the difficulties other children normally suffer in a divorce. A bipolar child need more parenting than other children when a divorce occurs. A bipolar child can also have particular difficulty moving between households especially when the rules change from place to place. Bipolar children have trouble accepting limits in the first place but it is harder when the limits change especially if one parent suggests that the other parent does not set appropriate limits. The bipolar child's tendency to split to see one parent as good and the other as bad and to switch these perceptions back and forth in rapid succession, plays havoc with her ability to accept authority. When there is intense animosity in the divorce which can more easily happen when Mom or Dad suffers from the intense anger that accompanies bipolar disorder.

Assistance For Families With A Bipolar Child

The disruptions that bipolar disorder causes in a child and in family function may make different kinds of psychotherapy necessary at different phases in treatment. There are however a number of factors that keep families from seeking treatment. Many families are worried about the cost. Families sometimes tend to minimize treatment especially psycho therapeutic treatment and there is an understandable temptation to depend mostly on medication.

Bipolar Disorder In Children

There may be unacknowledged assumption that their difficulties are the result of the failure as parents as if they should be able to get it just right and their children would not suffer. If there are any kind of abuse in the family whether emotional or substance abuse a culture of secrecy develops keeping people from seeking the help they need. All children have this to some degree because of the risk of an accompanying bipolar disorder. This may mean more than arranging play dates especially in the suburbs where children may not live close to one another. Supervise and facilitate your child's play with peers. Encourage your child's changing interests rather than insisting on mastery of any one of them. A child's interests at this time tend to be scattered. Have patience but set limits and stick to set clear boundaries between normal aggressive play and bullying. Let your child know behavior whether it's his or someone else. When medicated and when it successfully controls the illness this however does not treat the person much less the family.


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