If you’re parenting a child with bipolar disorder, then you know that it can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Here are some tips that may help:

1. Read everything you can about bipolar disorder, because knowledge is power. The more you are empowered the more YOU have control over this disorder rather than it having control over you. Ignorance is our worst enemy.

2. Document everything you can! These will help if you need to show them to the school, hospital and even the police if needed. Examples are: tapes, old behavior charts, tests, medical records, letters from psychiatrists and doctors, and school evaluations.

3. Take videos of your child's psychotic symptoms and/or rages to show mental health professionals when you’re trying to get a diagnosis. You may have to show these to family members as well, who don’t believe you when you tell them that your child has bipolar disorder, or who have never witnessed your child’s behavior.

4. Get an IEP (Individualized Education Program) and demand that the school follows it. Legally a school is required to follow an IEP exactly. Don’t forget that the IEP is in place to help your child, and that sometimes you need to remind the school of that. You are the one who is in control when it comes to your child, not the teachers.

5. You will probably have to advocate for your child at school. This means educating the teachers, guidance counselor, and other school faculty about your child's special needs. Be sure to also point out your child's abilities as well as their disabilities. Insist that your child has all the resources they will need to get the best education possible.

6. Monitor your child's sleep closely. Too much sleep can indicate depression, and too little sleep may even cause mania. Maintaining regular sleep (8-9 hours per night) is part of a good treatment regimen for bipolar disorder.

7. When you notice that your child is hyper or possibly even getting manic, try to keep them away from sources of stimulation that may be strong for them. Examples are: turning down the TV, closing the curtains, and speaking quietly.

8. When your child begins showing signs of mania or rage, one of the easiest (and healthy) ways for them to burn off some of their manic energy or to focus their rage is to exercise. Examples are: riding their bike or jogging.

9. Sometimes it’s hard to find a psychiatrist who treats children with pediatric bipolar disorder (early-onset bipolar disorder). If this is you, try a research hospital or university, as they may have someone who can help you and, if not, usually have the name of someone who can.

10. Try to get your child into therapy. Medications are the frontline defense in treatment, help, but they can’t do the job by themselves. Therapy will teach your child how to recognize the warning signs of bipolar disorder as well as how to cope with their emotions.

11. Don’t neglect yourself or your other children. Parenting a child with bipolar disorder can be stressful, and you may tend to isolate. Remember to take care of yourself so you can take care of your child. Watch for times when you can 'take off' or take a short break, and take advantage of them, any way you can.

12. Join a support group (local or online). It really helps to speak to other parents who are dealing with the same issues as you area.

13. Getting out by yourself is important. If you can't find a babysitter for your child, find another parent of a child with bipolar disorder and alternate nights out.

14. Assign your child certain chores at home – according to their abilities – so that they can feel like a helpful part of the family. Be sure to reinforce them by thanking them for their work. The child seeing what was accomplished is very important as far as goals are concerned, as well as positive reinforcement.

15. Watch for low self-esteem issues. Don’t be fooled by an outside mask, because it may be hiding an inner low self-esteem, and a lot of pain. Also, don’t be fooled by the amount of friends that your child has, and assume that means that they have a high sense of self-esteem, because that may not be the case, either.

Source: BPPhoenix at http://www.angelfire.com/home/bphoenix1/childtips.html