My 8 yr old grand daughter has been on meds for ADHD but now the Drs. feel it is mixed with Bipolar. She has severe mood swings and I too am worried that she will do harm to herself or others. I can totally understand this poor child is going through so much and it must be like fireworks going off in her head. But it is also extremely difficult to work with a child like this when they are manic. It is kinda like holding an egg in your hand and taking a ride on a roller coaster. I just need some good tips on how we can reason with her and teach her how to cope. I have been looking on line for books that might help her as she LOVES to read. Do you have any suggestions on books or websites etc. ??
Fireworks … yeah, that sounds about right. Or at least that’s what it feels like to me at times, like my brain is exploding. Sometimes it explodes with beautiful, colorful arrays of ideas and other times it just explodes and turns out to be a dud. All the ideas fizzle out and I’d rather just go soak in a hot bath to put out the smoke clouding my head.
It wasn’t much different for me as a child either. However, as I have bipolar II, I never really experienced the rages your granddaughter is going through. My son on the other hand … before he was stable, and ESPECIALLY when all he was on was stimulants (ADHD meds) he was less of a firecracker and more of a landmine. Don’t step in the wrong spot around that kid or he will BLOW UP! Desks would fly. Buckets of crayons would cover my floor. Rooms would be tossed as if his room were under an investigation and ransacked by angry cops. It was ridiculous.
Needless to say, I can totally relate to you when you say it is extremely difficult to work with a child like this. I can’t tell you how to make it stop and never happen again, though I can tell you a few things I would do to keep little PDog from destroying my house.
First things first though, your granddaughter needs a proper treatment plan. If the ADHD meds aren’t working speak with her doctor and find an alternative. I’ve read that stimulants can cause bipolar children to become enraged and unable to control their anger. My son proved this statement to be true. Twice. It may be that stimulants are not the proper medication choice for your granddaughter either.
Okay, back to our little deactivating of little time bombs (AKA raging children). I’d like to do this answer in a five part series as I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much info, but I do believe there are many things you can do to help BOTH of you cope with these situations.
PART ONE – Physical Raging
When my son would rage toys would fly. Whatever was closest to him would be ripped apart, even if it was his favorite toy. He even ripped his DS in half once. It took him two years to prove he could handle the responsibility of owning another one! So what did I do? Well, it’s kinda like if you don’t want your kids to eat candy, don’t put it in front of their face. I’d take him to a space such as the middle of the living room where there were no toys and/or breakable objects in reach. This is tricky however, obviously he wouldn’t just sit there and accept that he couldn’t throw stuff. And that’s where it got difficult.
When a child is raging and you take away all the tangible objects in their path of destruction there are only two things left for them to take the anger out on … you and that child. In Pdog’s case, he always went for the self harm first. He’d bang his head on the ground/wall/couch/chair/whatever was near, or he’d start punching and hitting himself. Eventually it would get to the point where I’d have to fully restrain him. Luckily, at the time, he was small enough that I could (though he was still a strong little bugger!).
The way I did it was kind of like hugging him … but my arms were around his arms and my legs were holding down his legs. That way he couldn’t hit or kick anything. Yes I got head banged. Yes I did get bit once. But once I told him how much he was hurting me he’d go back to merely struggling to get away.
I would repeat over and over, “I will let you go as soon as you calm down.” It might have taken quite a few repeats, but eventually the situation would defuse and I’d be able to let him go and help him breathe through the remaining anger.
Take careful note of these words, “I WILL let you go as soon as YOU calm down.”
Not, “I’M NOT letting you go until YOU STOP!”
Never … NEVER … Never use negative words while trying to calm a raging child. There is a HUGE difference in the above two statements. The first statement tells the child you are in charge of the situation, but they are in charge of their body. That way they feel in control in a positive way. They are in control of THEMSELVES … not you. In the second statement you are fighting for control. You’re telling them you aren’t doing anything on less THEY do something first. Don’t know about your granddaughter, but my kids ain’t having that.
It’s confusing, I know. But it helps … a LOT!
I’m not going to lie, trying to restrain a flailing, angry child is tiresome both emotionally and physically. You probably won’t see result’s right away, but when used with other techniques and used over a period of time you will see improvements worth every bite, bruise, and tear you may experience personally in the process.
In tomorrow’s post, I will delve deeper into verbally communicating with a spiteful, angry, raging child and go over a number of different examples with helpful responses that can make a horrible rage slowly turn into merely a heated conversation.