Bully or Bipolar?

by Joanne
(Cooper City Fl USA)

My 3 year old grandson has been kicked out of two day cares and is having problems at a third because of his behavior. He is very bright but refuses to toilet train; he hits indiscriminately and laughs when others get hurt. The teachers say if his behavior doesn't improve, they will need him to leave this day care. His mom is a single mom and his father is in and out of his life. We know the little guy misses him so; and we are trying to be consistent as grandparents. We had him seen by a neurologist who said he doesn't have ADHD, or autism or any other developmental neuro disorder. Could he be bipolar? just a bully? We are so worried that he will be kicked out of this day care as well and she will lose her job and house.


I’m not sure where your grandson’s aggression is coming from. Clearly aggression is not in and of itself a diagnostic indicator of Bipolar Disorder. When it is begin diagnosed in children a multitude of things need to be consider. Regardless of what the issue is, I think it is important to take your child to a trained play therapist. A play therapist can help you to figure out if his aggression is due to a particular issue, such as parenting, or anger and frustration over something that is causing him distress. After uncovering what may be contributing to the problems, a therapist would also be able to help make suggestions on how to remedy them.

If there is a history of bipolar disorder and substance abuse in the family I would always pay attention to the possibility that it may be a mood disorder. If he has exhibited sleep disturbance, signs of anxiety , very protracted tantrums, or fluctuations in energy level (different from a normal three year old) then I would be consistently looking for possible indicators that mood disturbance is likely a contributor. Unfortunately it is very difficult at three to know what is going on in the head of a three year old child. The fact that he has such concerned grandparents is a blessing.

I would recommend you continue to have your grand child evaluated and assessed by professionals who have experience working with young children and, if possible, with pediatric bipolar disorder.

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