1. Parenting

Children, School and Bipolar Disorder - Get Things Rolling Now

Coping with Bipolar Disorder from a Parent's Perspective

By Aishwarya Vohra

Many children suffer from mood swings, bipolar disorder, or other mood illnesses and have no control over the way they feel (or sometimes, the way they act). Yet, at the start of a new school year, all of the cards are on the table again. Will this teacher be okay with my child's bipolar disorder? Will he or she work with my child? Should I be considering a special needs program,. what about the other kids? For a parent of a child with this type of condition, it seems no one gets the concern, anxiety, and frustration that you have at the start of a new year.

Know Your Child's Needs

Not all children with mood disorders need special schools or classes. Many of them perform effectively and even outstandingly in a traditional classroom setting. The problem is, not all parents realize when a child needs special education. Keep the following in mind.

  • Does your child's doctor or other therapy provider recommend a specialized school or program? If so, find out why.
  • Will your child learn more and feel better in such an environment, or will the child do better in a structured learning environment in the traditional classroom?
  • Is it you that does not want to face the reality of what the child needs? Is that harsh? Yes, but parents need to do what is best for their child not for the parent's needs.

For those children who will be in a traditional school setting, the nail biting and frustration can begin. However, here is the key thing for parents to remember. You are your child's warrior. What they need and deserve is up to you to provide to them. The law is on your side - your child deserves a fair and full environment to function and grow in. So, how are you going to make sure that happens?

Elementary School

From the start of your child's educational years, it is up to you to ensure your child is given the proper learning environment for his or her needs. Here are some steps to consider for children with mood disorders.

  • Schedule a meeting a day or so before school starts with your child's new teacher. Discuss your child's condition as well as what it means for the teacher.
  • Meet with the school's principal if you feel there is any lack of communication or understanding of your child's mood disorder. Find out if there is a place that your child can go when in manic or depressive cycles that are out of control.
  • Take your child on a tour of the school in the day or so leading up to the first day. Be sure no other kids are there. Allow the child to see his or her room and to gain some type of ownership of it. They should feel comfortable there with the teacher. Also, ensure your child knows what he or she can do if leaving the classroom is important.

Ultimately, you want to ensure that there are resources on hand and steps in line to ensure your child's mood disorder is managed the way your child's doctor recommends. This also means ensuring the child's medication schedule, if it coincides with school, is maintained properly.

High School and Beyond

As your child gets older, he or she may be better able to monitor their condition to prevent full on behavior problems in the center of a classroom. Yet, it is still important to discuss any concerns you have with doctors long before the first school bell of the year chimes. It is a good idea for your teen to be reminded of the steps he or she needs to take to maintain health, too.

Don't Wait Until a Problem Happens

Do not wait until a teacher calls you about a meltdown to inform that teacher of your child's mood disorder. If your child does require special education, ensure you are a part of it. Help in the classroom or have a grandparent to do so. Ultimately, this can help ensure your child is getting the type of attention necessary.

Mood disorders, including bipolar are not easy to manage. No one likes to talk about it, though. If you think medicating your child and sending him or her off on the school bus is enough, think again. Children with mood disorders like this may need additional help and guidance throughout the school year to help them not to just pass but to excel in their educational goals.

The article has been written by guest writer, Aishwarya Vohra. She advocates the use natural products and organic foods for a healthy body and mind.

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