Is my daughter bi-polar or a normal almost-teen?

by Robin
(Waipahu, HI, USA)


I am a recently divorced and a single parent to an almost 13-year-old daughter. Since birth, she has been extremely emotional, strong-willed and prone to tantrums. As she's gotten older and matured emotionally in some ways, she still flies into instant rages and tantrums when she's upset. She screams, slams doors, pushes me, and stomps. She makes threatening postures and has shoved me. She persists and won't easily calm down. I try my best to keep my composure, and try to discuss what's going on with her later when she's calm. However, this tactic isn't working, as she is very reluctant to talk about it and just brushes it off. A short time after a screaming rage, she is smiling again and pleasant. I just don't know what's going on. I've gone with her for therapy several times, but now she's refusing to go back.

This behavior is typically a weekly occurrence. I love her very much and want to do what's best for her. Her biological parents were crystal meth users, and I wonder if the drugs are making her prone to this behavior. The mother was using during her first trimester. Or have my husband and myself been too indulgent and she's just plain spoiled? How do you tell the difference between bi-polar and the normal growing pains of an adolescent

coping with changes our family?

I very much appreciate any insights you could offer.

Hi Robin

Firstly, diagnosing bipolar disorder is a complex process. A medical professional needs to make this diagnosis and it is based on your child meeting the demonstrated symptoms of mania or mania and depression. The behaviors you are describing may or may not be related to a mood disorder.

Children who are born addicted to drugs or with systems compromised by drugs, can have an array of symptoms which affect executive functioning, mood regulation, impulsiveness,attention motor skills etc.

On the other hand, yes, you may be making poor parenting choices that are contributing to her behavior. Kids need to be held accountable for what they do, and their needs to be natural and logical consequences in place to help teach them how to grow into responsible kind adults. However, I am not certain that this is the case. I know parents usually blame themselves for everything that goes wrong and it isn't really helpful unless it helps to create a clear path of better choices.

I can't really tell from the information what might be causing the issues, however, they do sound significant enough to warrant help. I think I would keep trying therapists until you find one she will agree to see.

Good luck to you!


Kristen McClure

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May 04, 2011
bi-polar/spoiled child
by: Carol

My daughter was 9 before she was given the proper medication to HELP her control her mood swings.
(medication alone is never the answer)

My daughter is also adopted. I waited years for her and went through hell and back to get her. My love for her is unconditional in a way that people who havn't adopted will never I get it...I really do.
I question myself she it something eles? Was I too weak a parent? Did my fear of losing her or her not loving me as 'mom' cause me to spoil her? Have I gone out and fought to adopt this child, given up my career, my friends, my entire way of life to save this child only to bring her home and ruin her?
What I will tell you is this, 12 years into this and I STILL am not convinced I wasn't somehow to blame, but I have accepted that no matter how we got where we are, I will do whatever I need in order to help my daughter.

After taking her to about 1200 different doctors one finally said to me 'write down all the reasons you think something is wrong with her'. The following is the top 5 reasons and what convinced me that maybe the doctors were child is Bi-polar:

1.Total intolerance for anyone or anything that goes agaisnt what she wants at that moment.
(when she is annoyed a 2 year old is treated the exact same way she would treat a 12 year old or an adult..she CAN'T differenciate)
2. Angry outbursts that last for 2 or more hours.Punching, body slams, cursing, throwing things and self harm.
3. Anxiety that led to OCD type behaviors. (was convinced she HAD to get rid of all the baby birds near our home...climbed on the roof to do so)
4. Nightmares that prevented her from sleeping for more than an hour at a time. (This went on for SIX YEARS)
5. Once fell on the floor in a fit of laughter that lasted so long and was so uncontrollable she begged her father to help her breath. Then jumped up and punched me in the face.

I hope in some small way this might help yoou find the answers you're looking for. I wish you peace as you go through this with your child. this and

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