Parenting a Child with a Mood Disorder

School is back in session.  Good news, right?

May be not for those who are finding it hard to deal with separation anxiety. And it is not just the toddlers starting school for the first time that are affected by this, but parents too.

Trust me, I know.

But as parents have been anxiously running from store to store checking off everything on their child’s shopping list, making sure they are prepared for school on the first day, clothes and supplies may be the least of your back to school worries.

Pediatric Bipolar Disorder– “a mental condition marked by periods of extreme and impairing changes in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior” (DBSA).

Just as mood disorders are real in adults, children are also faced with behavioral challenges.

Yes, it is quite normal for all children to experience the phase of acting out, being rebellious and testing parental authority. But if you parent a child with depression or bipolar, then you know their behavioral functions are quite different.

If your child has been diagnosed for awhile, then you might already have gone through the stage of acceptance and now learning preventative ways to help your child handle possible rough days.

Your child might have been recently diagnosed and as a parent, you are feeling nervous and a bit afraid for your child starting school this year. You want them to be as ‘normal’ as possible and enjoy the things that other kids will. Guess what?  They can.

Treatment and Support

Although you as a parent may not be diagnosed with a mood disorder, you will experience the effects of having your child, who you love dearly, have to live with the challenge everyday. There should be a treatment plan in place for your child, as well as, a support system for you.

  • Professional help– Mood disorders are diagnosed by health care professionals. Make sure you continue to work with a professional to establish a treatment plan for your child.
  • Education– As with any health disparity it can be overwhelming trying to understand the medical language. Take time to educate yourself and research information about mood disorders. Start by asking your provider questions and for literature.
  • Counseling or psychotherapy– In addition to counseling for your child, consider counseling or therapy for yourself and other family members who interact with your child on a regular basis.
  • Support network– Build a support system. Consider participating in online networks with other parents and/or join a support group.
  • Parental instincts– Trust your instincts. You are still your child’s parent and that is the most important role in their treatment plan.  Be active in their treatment plan.

These are just a few starters to help you gain confidence about helping your child through this process. There will be more blog posts on tips to help with siblings, extended family members, friends and church members. This is a new journey for you and your child; however, expect greatness. Set goals for this school year and look forward to the journey without being overly anxious about it.

“And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life….Therefore do not worry and be anxious” (Matthew 6:27,31a).

Do the work to help your child get the best treatment and support, but trust GOD to help you through this school year. You are a great parent and you will continue to be just that!

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