Early onset bipolar disorder in children is similar to bipolar disorder that adults experience except for that fact that children may experience rapid shifts in moods on a daily basis. Children with bipolar symptoms like this also experience low arousal states in the morning with increased energy in the afternoon and evenings. Because of these symptoms, keeping your child on a schedule can help them learn how to cope with their disorder.
Many children with bipolar disorder are unable to calm down at night and fall asleep. Their energy levels are much higher than children who do not have bipolar disorder. Parents need to recognize that in order to avoid irritability, angry outbursts and other defiant behavior, adjusting your home to accommodate your bipolar child is in everyone's best interests. Some doctors may prescribe a sleep medication but often that can be avoided by trying some other methods to make your child's space more conductive to sleep.
Keeping a routine is essential for patients who have bipolar, not just children. If a parent of a bipolar child teaches them soon after diagnosis how to keep a schedule, they will grow up with it as a way of life. Living a chaotic life only makes the symptoms of bipolar harder to deal with.
The first thing for a parent to do is to create an environment for their child that is free of distractions. Their bedroom should be free of video game systems, television and any other electronic device that they could use to distract themselves from sleeping. If you do not want to remove their television from their bedroom just make it a rule that it is not turned on after a certain time. Calming music can help a child wind down so using an iPod, CD player or even a radio is something that a bipolar child should have in their bedroom.
Lighting is another issue. Room darkening blinds or curtains can help to keep distractions down. Room temperature also needs to be considered. A small fan sometimes helps to drown out noise and lull a child into sleep. Many bipolar children have issues with being overly sensitive to fabrics. Comfort is essential in whether or not you can fall asleep and stay asleep. Don't assume that buying a pillowtop for your child's bed will make it more comfortable for them. Some bipolar children prefer a harder surface to sleep on. Have them shop with you for their blankets, pillows, sheets and anything else that will help them to be able to feel comfortable.
Using an all-natural sleep aid like Melatonin can help with many bipolar children. You should ask your doctor about this before giving it to your child but many parents see a difference in how their child falls asleep and awakens when taking this supplement.
Another routine that needs to be enforced is regular meals. Getting a bipolar child to eat a good breakfast when they have difficulty in awakening may seem impossible but it will help greatly. Aim for something whole grain that will be filling and provide energy in the mornings when they need it the most. Even a grab and go breakfast like a bagel will give them the benefits of having breakfast. It is already proven that children do better in school when they start their day off by eating breakfast.
Watching their sugar and especially caffeine intake is important also. Encourage healthier snacking by keeping fruits and vegetables handy. Cut back on "bad" foods and eventually, they will not miss them. Make sure they eat meals even if they are not hungry. Smaller portions at frequent intervals may work better when it is possible to do so.
These are just two things to consider when working on a schedule for a bipolar child. Paying more attention to their sleeping and eating will show a big difference in their moods. It will make dealing with your bipolar child easier.
Bipolar Disorder, Fear of Harm, Medication Symptoms and Accommodations