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In the last section, we discussed three difficulties bipolar children have in
relating to other children. These difficulties included impulsiveness;
defiant attitudes; and disempowerment
In this section, we will examine three aspects that affect
a bipolar child’s
healthylifestyle, which are sugar craving; exercising activity; and
3 Aspects that Affect a Healthy Lifestyle
♦ 1. Sugar Craving
The first topic we will discuss is the sugar craving that
a bipolar child client experiences. For bipolar children, there is a
constant craving for carbohydrates both during a manic and a depressive state. During
a manic state, the carbohydrates will fuel the energy required for their erratic
behavior. During a depressive state the child desires energy and so he or she
consumes more carbohydrates.
Many children fulfill their carbohydrate
craving with sugar, candy, chocolate and other unhealthy means. These
added sugars may send them into a manic state or even a depressive one because
of unwanted weight gain.
Adeline was a 6 year old bipolar client of mine
who would eat a gallon of chocolate ice cream nearly everyday if her mother
did not monitor her. Obviously, this type of behavior is extremely dangerous. If
the child does not learn early on the values of good eating habits, he or she
will continue their reckless habits into adulthood increasing his or her risk
for heart disease. These types of behavior must be prevented by the parents. I
ask the parents of bipolar children to make more healthy decisions themselves. When
there is anything in the house that is sugary, no matter where it is hidden,
a bipolar child will find it and consume it.
To prevent the craving for
candy, I suggested that Adeline be given fruits, that are high in natural sugars and will curb her craving. Also, pasta is a good substitute for fatty
chocolate bars and still fulfills that carbohydrate craving. Obviously,
moderation must be emphasized. From an early age, children must convince
themselves that once they’ve eaten a certain amount, they must stop themselves.
Asking Adeline Non-Abrasive Questions
Adeline cried for ice cream, her mother gave her a strawberries instead. At
first, Adeline was resistant, so her mother sprinkled some sugarless sweetener
onto the strawberries. Adeline soon developed a taste for these healthier
snacks. When she would ask for more, her mother would ask her, "Haven’t
you had enough?" When Adeline responded with no, her mother would
again ask her, "Are you sure your tummy’s not full?" By
asking Adeline these non abrasive questions, her mother avoided a conflict but also caused Adeline to stop herself from consuming too much. Think
of your "Adeline". Is he or she consuming too many carbohydrates?
♦ 2. Exercising Activity
To counteract any overeating that might occur, I suggest that parents involve
their children in an exercising activity. At an early
age, sports are not recommended for bipolar children, because if the child
cannot control the game, he or she might fly into a rage and hurt the other
children. Until they learn to control their impulses and their cycling
is not as severe, the child client should be kept from competitive activities. However,
exercise itself is very important. Not only does it burn off the carbohydrates
that the client overconsumes, but it also boosts energy during depressive
states and increases self-confidence.
The activity the child engages
in should spark his curiosity and interest... Many parents rent dancing
videos that their child follows. Other parents buy large, inflated
balls to throw around with their children. And then there are those
few children who prefer just to run around the backyard until they tire themselves
out. The endorphins created by this exercise will leave the child with
a healthy, euphoric feeling. However, I instruct parents to monitor
their child’s mood for any signs of manic behavior. When the
client seems as though he or she is becoming manic, I recommend that the
child be calmed down by a less active distraction such as reading a book
or playing a video game.
Controlling the Ball through Various Obstacles Taylor was a seven year old bipolar client who was active even in
his stable states. His mother, Regina, stated to me, "Even when
he’s not in a manic mood, he’s always looking for a new activity. His
mind is so creative and curious, it’s hard to keep him occupied. When
he can’t find something to do, he gets mad and that’s when I think
he becomes manic." To help Regina and Taylor combat Taylor’s
boredom, I suggested Taylor find a certain activity that he likes to do outside. Regina
bought Taylor a soccer ball and net.
When he became bored, Regina sent
Taylor outside to practice shooting the ball in the net, juggling the ball
on his feet, and controlling the ball through various obstacles. This
activity not only engaged Taylor’s body, but also his mind. The
soccer ball and net proved to keep Taylor occupied enough that he avoided becoming
irritable and manic. Think of your "Taylor". Could
he or she benefit from an outdoor hobby?
♦ 3. Sleep - Routines
such as reading a book, brushing teeth, or combing hair...
In addition to a healthy diet and exercise, the third important aspect of a
healthy life style is sleep. This is especially true
for bipolar child clients. Without enough sleep, they can fly into
cycles. Too much sleep produces excessive amounts of melatonin, a depressive
hormone, exacerbating the depressive state. Too little causes irritability and unfocused thoughts, which may induce a manic state. Many times,
child bipolar clients will refuse to go to bed because they are engaged in
an activity. If the parent openly defies the child, the client will
then become angry and possibly manic.
To combat resistant clients that
do not want to go to bed, I suggest that parents disengage the client an
hour before their intended bed time. This can be done by reading them
a book that they love. After the book is finished, the child will
know it is time for bed. An established routine can also help your
child sink into the rhythm of going to bed when they need to. Routines such as reading a book, brushing teeth, or combing hair will soon be associated
with a signal that tells the body to slow down. This way, the child
can get the right amount of sleep he or she requires.
In this section, we discussed three aspects that affect a bipolar
healthy life style: sugar craving; exercising activity; sleep.
Treating Disruptive Behavior Disorders in Children and Teens
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Treating Disruptive Behavior Disorders in Children and Teens A Review of the Research for Parents and Caregivers. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Dejonckheere, E., Mestdagh, M., Houben, M., Erbas, Y., Pe, M., Koval, P., Brose, A., Bastian, B., & Kuppens, P. (2018). The bipolarity of affect and depressive symptoms.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 114(2), 323–341.
Freed, R. D., Tompson, M. C., Wang, C. H., Otto, M. W., Hirshfeld-Becker, D. R., Nierenberg, A. A., & Henin, A. (2015). Family functioning in the context of parental bipolar disorder: Associations with offspring age, sex, and psychopathology.Journal of Family Psychology, 29(1), 108–118.
Gershon, A., Thompson, W. K., Eidelman, P., McGlinchey, E. L., Kaplan, K. A., & Harvey, A. G. (2012). Restless pillow, ruffled mind: Sleep and affect coupling in interepisode bipolar disorder.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121(4), 863–873.
Schwartz, L. A., & Feeny, N. C. (2007). The nature of and behavioral treatment of sleep problems in youth with bipolar disorder.International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, 3(1), 88–95.
14 What are three aspects that affect a bipolar child’s healthy life style?
To select and enter your answer go to Test.
This CD set has covered such topics as: Helping Parents Understand, Unique
Manifestations in Bipolar Children, Suicide, Distinguishing between ADHD and
Bipolar Disorder, Self-Destructive Behaviors, Triggers, Coping with Raging
Clients, Coping with Paranoid and Fearful Clients, Mixed States, Bipolar Child
Clients and Medications, Antidepressant Therapies, Stress in Bipolar Child
Clients, Relating to other People, and the Importance of a Healthy Life Style.
I hope you have found the information to be both practical and beneficial.
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