Parenting, as every parent will agree is a challenging task. It is always mixed with anxiety and joy. If you are parents of a bipolar child, then you will have mixed emotions for a lifetime as your child grows up. Raising such a child often seems to be an insurmountable task.
It is not necessary that coping with a bipolar child has to take a toll on you as well as your family. The key to bringing up these children and understanding them well is to become fully aware of this disorder. Educate yourselves well about this disorder and introduce coping mechanisms at home. This helps the siblings, if they are big enough, to understand their sibling’s behavior.
There is a difference between an adult and a child with a bipolar disorder. An adult goes through the ups and downs in 20-30 days but a child with similar disorder goes through the same ups and downs every day. It seems as if he is riding a rollercoaster each day. Added to this, are the hormonal changes that manifest themselves from ages 10-11. With the onset of puberty, this ride becomes almost impossible to control despite medication. The medication has to be monitored and adjusted or altered on a regular basis.
Among the various coping mechanisms, parents and educators can guide the child to lead a structured life. With predictable routines, they are not overwhelmed with issues like where to go, what to do, etc. You should also scale down whatever expectations you may have from your bipolar child. Sometimes as parents, we expect too much from our children, without realizing that it often becomes difficult for them to handle this.
Encourage the bipolar child to be positive. A ‘Look What I Did Today’ attitude will overshadow any sense of failure. When they are in their low periods, try to figure out one or two things that they can easily do - this will give them a target to achieve for the day.
Keep siblings informed about what this child undergoes each day. Teach them to identify the highs and low periods in a day. Sometimes, children do not know how to react when a bipolar child acts or behaves. If they are informed about such typical bipolar behavior, then the siblings could easily adjust to such behavior thereby avoiding conflicts with their bipolar sibling.
Another aspect of a successful coping mechanism is to take out time for yourself. You need to reinvigorate yourself at least once a week. You may also take the other members of your family to several outings to give them a break and be away from their bipolar sibling even for just a day or two.
Follow these techniques and you will have a harmonious family life even if you have a bipolar child in your family.