Approaches to Healthy Living.
Medication, therapy, regular discussions with the doctor, and the support of family and friends are all important to your child's Bipolar Disorder treatment plan. Good nutrition and exercise, and learning to deal with family, school, and social situations are important, too.
Maintain balanced nutrition. While there are no specific dietary requirements for patients with Bipolar Disorder, a balanced diet can provide a consistent level of energy and help protect against other illnesses. A healthy balance should include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains such as cereals, breads, and pasta
- Lean proteins such as poultry and fish
Also, schedule meals at regular times, and avoid sugary or fatty fast foods and snacks and caffeine-based drinks. Be sure to talk to your child’s doctor before changing their diet.
Engage in doctor-approved exercise. Regular exercise can help manage energy, weight, and stress. It can also contribute to overall health. Talk to your child's doctor before having them begin any new exercise program.
Stick to a regular sleep schedule. It’s important to go to bed and wake up at a consistent time every day, even on weekends. Disrupted sleep patterns can affect your child's mood.
Children should not drink alcohol or use illicit drugs. Abuse of alcohol or drugs can interfere with treatment goals. Even a small amount of alcohol or an illicit drug may trigger an episode, disrupt sleep patterns, and interfere with medication.
Being the parent of a child with Bipolar Disorder can be a challenge. Dealing with mood swings and disruptive behavior is hard, and it is important for all members of the family, siblings included, to understand what is going on and know how to respond properly.
Here are a few things you can do to help prevent and manage the extreme mood swings of Bipolar Disorder in the home:
- Create a calm and stable environment and try to reduce stress by using good listening and communication skills
- Set reasonable expectations for behavior and use praise often; reward appropriate behavior
- Be patient and ignore minor negative behavior
- Help the child anticipate and prepare for stressful situations by developing coping strategies beforehand
- Encourage and engage the child's creativity by getting them involved in activities that encourage these strengths
- Provide a routine structure and (especially for older children and adolescents) freedom, within limits
- Calming music or sounds, or massage, can help a child deal with transitions like falling asleep or waking, and may relieve stress or help them relax
To help your child handle homework, consider the following:
- Establish a routine schedule for homework, including a regular time and place
- Limit distracting noise and activity during homework hours (calming music or sounds may help them stay focused)
- Divide assignments into smaller segments that will be less overwhelming and reward with praise and a short break when a segment is completed
- Have your child work a certain amount of time and then stop (if the workload is excessive, work with his or her teachers to seek accommodations to make it more manageable)
In the classroom
Bipolar Disorder may affect a child's ability to focus and learn. The disease presents challenges to the teacher, the student, and the classroom environment.
However, there are things you can do, working with your child and his or her teachers:
- Engage your child's teachers and school administrators early on and help them understand how Bipolar Disorder affects your child's learning style
- Ask to have your child's homework reduced or modified so that it is manageable for him or her
- Ask your child's teachers to give them extra time to finish tests and assignments
- If necessary, work with teachers to establish weekly goals with rewards for achievement
- Ask if your child can use a keyboarding device for written assignments, and a calculator for math
Bipolar Disorder can affect your child's ability to relate to their peers. It can become difficult to make friends, or to be involved in extracurricular or other activities. Here are some tips for building healthy social relationships:
Practice social skills at home. It's important to help your child understand the process of making friends. Being home with family is a safe place for your child to learn what upsets others (e.g., bossy, controlling behavior), and what appeals to them.
Choose the right candidates. Friends connect with each other for different reasons. Helping your child acknowledge what kinds of people he or she bonds with will help them learn which type of people they get along with best, making it easier to make new friends.
Create a social dynamic. Give your child opportunities to practice good social behavior. Team sports, clubs and community functions can be good ways to expose your child to others their own age with similar interests.
For more tips, take a look at Online information and support.
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