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