How can I best deal with my child who has bipolar disorder?

Although it may not be obvious, children and adolescents with unstable moods as the result of bipolar disorder are often frightened about how out of control they feel. Although challenging, it is important for parents to do all that they can to stay in the role of the adult. Staying calm in the face of upsetting situations and reacting to your child's out of control behavior in a thoughtful and rational way that models being "in control" is not always easy. However, such a stance can have a significant impact on increasing the chances of a positive outcome for your child and your family. Your child needs you and is relying on you to make the right choices and decisions while shepherding your child through childhood and into adulthood. Learn as much as you can from the reliable resources available, and make the best decisions you can for the health, safety and future of your child.
Parenting a child with Bipolar Disorder requires empathy, patience, time, and flexibility. Parents of children diagnosed with the disorder should:
  • Be flexible and empathetic
  • Keep a structured schedule and environment for your child
  • Be prepared (e.g., listen when your child is ready to talk)
  • Praise success (praise specific behaviours, and measure success in comparison to "usual" behaviors)
  • Speak with positives (replace don'ts with dos: "Don't hit your brother" should be "Please keep your hands and feet to yourself")
  • Reduce stressors (be sure to build in a buffer of time and energy into your day so that you are prepared for unexpected events)
  • Do frequent mood checks (avoid tackling problems and issues important to school or family functioning when the child's mood is not stable)

Continue Learning about Bipolar Disorder In Children & Teens

Bipolar Disorder In Children & Teens

Bipolar Disorder In Children & Teens

Because children experience symptoms differently from adults with bipolar disorder, and because children often lack adequate language for how they feel, diagnosis of bipolar can be difficult. Symptoms for children include bouts of ...

severe depression, feelings of hopelessness, poor sleep and changes in eating habits. Depression tends to become more common during and after puberty, particularly among girls. Your child’s doctor will use a diagnostic assessment, exam and thorough medical history to help in diagnosis. If you think your child may have bipolar disorder, make an appointment with your family doctor to talk about the symptoms you notice.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.