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Bipolar Toddler


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Anonymous January 30, 2009


I have a 2 year old that may be Bipolar. She suffers from MAJOR mood swings and can have RAGING fits that last for hours. She has had night terrors and refuses to be disciplined. It is very hard to parent her, because when you try to put her in time-out for hitting someone, it turns into a SCREAMING, FIGHTING ordeal, that will last for hours if I don't back down. She will NOT sit in time-out or do what you ask. How do I teach her right from wrong, when she refuses to be parented? She can be the sweetest, most polite, loving child..... but sometimes I feel she acts like an actress playing a role in the movie..."The exorcist" Anyone ever dealt with this?

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annelar January 30, 2009


Yes! My 4 yr old is exactly like that. She was miserable with the mood swings and tantrums and not obeying or sitting in time out. The preschool I had her in suggested maybe she had austim - we took her to several doctors and specialists including USF in CA. THey said she could have bi-polar and probably has ADHD. I refused to put her on lithium - we did try some of the ADHD meds when she was 3 - they didn't help. She started at the Goddard School last sumer in Sparks and has made a remarkable transformation! It has helped more than anything we have done. She still has her tantrums, but they are fewer and less time. I think maturity is part of the equation too. Hang in there - it might just be that she needs more structure - not more meds!

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lkayl77 January 30, 2009


The first things to look at are whether or not she is getting enough sleep, both during the night and with naps. Also look at the food she eats. Excess caffeine, sugar, additives and chemicals in food can trigger this. Try to cut off the blow-up as soon as you see it coming, before it escalates... remove her from the situation and, if possible, go to a quiet place with no noise, light, etc and hold her very closely rocking her back and forth. She might have a sensory integration disorder. It seems to you like she is "refusing to be parented" but it sounds like she needs very finite boundaries set by you. Good luck!!

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tjlove January 30, 2009


Some of that sounds like my two year old too- laughing and playing one minute and the next minute throwing some sort of a tantrum. But raging tantrums that last for hours could be indicative of something else at play. Definitely talk with your daughter's pediatrician about your concerns.
But also keep in mind that two is a difficult age and is very trying for many parents.

I don't know if you'll find any of the following advice helpful so feel free to disregard it!

I just checked a book out from the library called, "The Happiest Toddler On The Block," that has some great strategies for parents on how to communicate with their toddlers. In the book, the author describes a toddler's mind like a jungle, disorganized with a lot going on.

Something else I picked up from my days as a nanny in regards to time outs- kids that young will really test your limits and 9 out of 10 times won't sit in the time out. But they will put themselves in their own time out.

For example, you're trying to get your daughter to put on her shoes. She won't. She kicks you, throws a shoe at you, and you threaten her with a time out. She then proceeds to cry and kick some more and then flops herself on the floor. Voila! She has put herself in a time out. Let her be there until she calms down, give her a hug, reassure her you still love her and then compromise on the shoes.

I switch between giving my daughter time outs if she has done something really inappropriate or I'll just send her to her room where she can play quietly and decide on her own when to come out.

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beachcomber January 30, 2009


You certainly have your hands full. Everyone has given great ideas and suggestions. If she has no other medical conditions that may be diagnosed by her pediatrician, I would suggest you may enable the help of a behavior specialist. Bipolar takes years to diagnose. The night tremors would be a concern. That may indicate something other than bipolar. An awesome book that may help : Have a New Kid By Friday by Dr.Kevin Leman. It discusses children's attitude, behavior, character and has some really great tips and ideas. You may also want to check out the group education and nutrition for some interesting facts regarding how eating affects children and adults for that matter.

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healthy11 January 30, 2009


As others have said, the first thing to do is consult with your pediatrician to ensure there isn't a medical problem that needs addressing. One of the proactive things you can do between now and when you see the doctor is to keep a diary of your daughter's days...Try to record when she wakes, naps, needs diaper changes, etc. and how her moods vary throughout the day. In addition, try to log EVERYTHING she eats or drinks, because it's possible there are certain food triggers or even blood sugar fluctuations that can be contributing to her moods. Even if this recordkeeping doesn't identify the exact reason for her behaviors, it can also be helpful to rule things out.

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vacekd1001 February 3, 2009


Here are a couple of groups you might enjoy. You may want to repost your question in one or both groups.

Children with "Emotional Disabilities
http://community.greatschools.net/groups/78148

Education & Nutrition
http://community.greatschools.net/groups/72334


i have more to say but i need to get my 3yr old ready for bed now.


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vacekd1001 February 3, 2009


Here is a link i found. It basically stresses using caution before diagnosing a young child with a bi-polar disorder.
http://www.medhelp.org/posts/show/262246

there are many articles on the subject just google
DSM IV Toddler Bi-polar Disorder

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annelar February 4, 2009


After seeiing my daughter's pediatrician several different times and seeing 4 or 5 different kinds of psychiatrists, I am convinced that psychiatrists do not have the faintest ideas of how or when to diagnose bi-poloar in toddlers and pre-schoolers. I would be very careful taking that as a diagnosis.

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vacekd1001 February 4, 2009



I agree with annelar i would also be very cautious before i accepted bi-polar as a diagnoses.

Here is some more articles i found on the subject.

Toddlers Medicated for Bi-polar disorders in record numbers.
news.aol.com/newsbloggers/2008/01/08/record-number-of-toddlers-medicated-for-bipolar-disorder/

Understanding Childhood Bi-Polar Disorders
www.googobits.com/articles/830-understanding-childhood-bipolar-disorder.html

toddlers and bi-polar disorders
www.medhelp.org/posts/show/262246

Rebecca
psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/04/08/an-update-on-rebecca-riley-and-toddler-bipolar-disorder/


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hollymcgowan February 11, 2009


I am currently reading a great book called Taming Bipolar Disorder by Lori Oliwenstein. It has a chapter on bipolar children and is an amazing wealth of information about various website and where & how to get help. I have not had experience with a toddler with the disorder but it does run in my family. Maybe your child isn't bipolar at all but you should get help to rule it out.



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