Concerned grandma

I have a three year old grand-daughter who I have raised since birth almost and I feel she is suffering from toddler bipolar disorder. Her mother and grandfather both have been diagnosed with it.

I'm told that i can't have her tested until she's at least 5 what can i do for her till then? I feel so bad for her. She gets easily frustrated when around big family gatherings and has alot of temper tantrums. Other than that she does good by herself and can sit and watch an entire movie by herself. I'm worried about the mood swings. She seems to be very smart little girl for the most part.

Hi Grandma

It is very difficult to evaluate bipolar disorder in a toddler and as you know many people do not believe it exists. Developmentally all toddlers have mood swings, so determining what is normal is challenging. Additionally mood swings even if abnormal can be due to so many other things besides bipolar disorder. Finally, there is no test for bipolar disorder. There are very few professionals who are trained to evaluate this in the country.

How can you help now?

You can begin to teach her the names of feelings. Cut out pictures, talk about feelings in the movies she watches, talk about your feelings. Teach her that feelings

can't hurt you even if it feels like they can. You can begin to teach her communication skills, again by modeling good communication. Teach her to ask for what she needs rather than find indirect ways to get it. You can also keep her on a strict routine and try and ensure she has a healthy sleep schedule and diet that is healthy.

Although it is concerning that there is such a loaded family history, nothing you are saying indicates that she has bipolar disorder. When she is old enough to participate I would have her undergo a psychological evaluation just to ensure she is developing in a healthy way!

Good luck

Kristen McClure

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