My 15 year old son with bi-polar

My name is Nichole and I live in upstate NY. My son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 5 and about 2 years ago, he was diagnosed with bi-polar.

He takes 40mg of Straterra, 1250mg of depakote and 1800mg of neurotin. It seems to really help him but my husband doesn't seem to really understand bi-polar and get's very frustrated with our son. Giving our son simply rules like no one is to be in the house when we are not home and you are not to leave the house when we are not home. He doesn't seem to grasp it. Last night he allowed a friend over when we were not home and we grounded him. Our son's most precious thing is his CELL PHONE!!!! My husband took it from him and broke it!!

He told our son that because he broke the rules about not having anyone in the house while we are not home, he broke his phone!! I feel he went overboard with breaking his phone and stuck in the middle!! What are your thoughts and can you help us with discipline for our a bi-polar child??? I don't want to put more stress on our son, but he also needs boundaries!! My heart breaks because he struggles so and because my husband and my son always bump heads!! PLEASE HELP!!!!

Hi Nicole.

This sounds like a challenging place for you to be. Kids who have bipolar disorder often do not respond to normal discipline and parenting, and it can be challenging to get them to follow rules. Men have a particularly hard time with their sons, because they feel like they should know what to do and be able to get things under control.

One of the best approaches with kids like your son is the collaborative problem

solving approach. You can learn about it by googling it. There are videos where you can watch it in action being demonstrated by the creator, Ross Greene.

Here are the basic assumptions:
Kids do well if they can. If they have the skills they would be using them, because all kids want to do well. If you believe your child is behaving badly, or trying to make you angry, your approach to addressing their behavior will be different from if you believe they are lacking the skills and have difficulty solving problems.

Parents with children with special needs, need to be flexible and accepting of what they are dealing with, rather than parenting their child in ways that are ineffective just because they think the child should listen.

When a child's environment has stress in it that they cannot navigate successfully, you often see it as a behavior problem

So, if for example your child is breaking rules about having his peers over, this particular approach would stress that the child is somehow feeling stressed by this and unable to make good choices about following rules. This is often the case with kids who are trying to fit in.

Finally the most helpful concept may be three options for problem solving, which adults usually try to use to solve problems with kids.

Plan A, Unilateral problem solving ( what your husband did)
Plan C dropping the problem completely ( what we often do)

Plan B is where we want to be and what we want to be doing. Go to the website Lives in the balance and click on Plan B to see this in action. Essentially this is about respectfully working with kids to address issues that you know are present when you are not in crisis.

Hope this helps.

Good Luck

Kristen McClure

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