We often talk about signs of mental health disorders in children. I want to start a conversation by listing the habits of stable kids so that we can truly see the difference between a child who is going through the terrible twos, growing pains and finding independence vs. the kids who do need help for mental health symptoms.
Seven Signs of Stable Kids
1. When you say, “You need to put that away now,” the child grumbles a bit, but puts the item away.
2. When you say, “We need to stop what we are doing and get ready for bed,” the child complains minorly and then does what you ask.
3. The child tests, but ultimately respects parental authority and understands that there is a difference between questioning authority and refusing to do as you ask out of defiance to all rules.
4. The child does not destroy property that matters to another person in order to get back at the person.
5. If the kid steals something, he or she is able to see that stealing is probably not the best idea and there are consequences.
6. The child experiments on an average with kids of a similar age. When you explain that something is dangerous, the child listens and changes over time.
7. When you explain your feelings, the child is able to slightly see your side of the story. They grow into more empathy as they age.
Stable kids will definitely get overwhelmed and have temper tantrums… but they will never throw themselves on the ground in public, flailing their arms and legs, screaming and yelling that you abuse them and then refuse to get up. They will not call the police on YOU.
Stable kids experiment with everything, but they tend to understand when something is not in their best interest overall.
Stable kids can get very upset, but eventually they self sooth and come down to dinner.
Julie A. Fast is the author of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Get it Done When You’re Depressed. She writes for Bp Magazine for Bipolar, the Psychology Today blog and was the original consultant for the Claire Danes character on Homeland. Her next book, Hortensia and the Magical Brain: Poems for Kids with Bipolar, Anxiety, Depression and Psychosis is current on Kickstarter. The video is below.
Tips to Talk with Kids about Bipolar Disorder and Life in General
The Kickstarter for Hortensia and the Magical Brain is Live!
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