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Bring on the Hate Mail-I’ve Spanked my 4 Year Old, Instead of Drugging Him

Posted Sep 28 2008 10:34pm

There’s something very seductive about being told that your kid has a neurobiological disorder and needs to be medicated,” said McClellan, who is chairing a committee on pediatric bipolar disorder for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “It lets people off the hook.

This article also talked about an 18 month old who was on lithium because it cried a lot.

My fantasy study of pre-school bipolars:

Behavior modification going head to head, against psych meds.

I’ll bet you would not see a big rush of pharmaceutical companies wanting to sponsor it.

Elated children may laugh hysterically and act infectiously happy without any reason at home, school or in church. If someone who did not know them saw their behaviors, they would think the child was on his/her way to Disneyland. Parents and teachers often see this as “Jim Carey-like” behaviors.

~ From the NAMI description of how to recognize some mania-specific symptoms in children.

I don’t think I want to know a six-year-old who isn’t a dreamer, or a sillyheart. And I sure don’t want to know one who takes their student career seriously. I don’t have a college degree. I don’t even have a job. But I know a good kid when I see one. Because they’re ALL good kids, until dried-out, brain-dead skags like you drag them down and convince them they’re no good.

~Buck Russell (John Candy in “Uncle Buck”)


I had an interesting chat with my pdoc two days ago.
I asked him what he thought about bipolar in children. He said “sure” in regards to teenagers; but he was not even comfortable diagnosing a pre-teen…..I said, “No, I’m talking about 3-5 year olds”

He said, “Not by me you would not see a diagnosis like that, why?”

So I gave him the violent/raging toddler scenario.

I began telling him about my son:

(My son, who, by 3 1/2 bit: playmates, me and his little brother, scratched…drawing blood, pinched, kicked, hit etc….among other things, when I say he bit, I don’t mean a few times, I’m talking bruising bites that took place well over 50 times at least; and the scratching & pinching…lets just say people thought his little brother had chickenpox on more than a few occasions.)

“That’s not a mood episode, that’s sibling rivalry and temper tantrums” he said.


He’d never heard this aspect about my life before….he asked me about it, so I went on.

Here is what I told him:
My life had become a nightmare. I’d come to my wit’s end with my son. He’d been tossed out of pre-school, I could not let him around his brother. The pre-school teachers suggested to take him to a psychologist. So I did. The school district’s psychologist also evaluated him. These were his diagnoses: possibly bipolar, the other said ADHD with depression ( who wouldn’t be depressed when constantly being in trouble?)

“Give him Ritalin”

I tried that, he “ came down” from that med each afternoon and cried uncontrollably for two hours. That was not my son, he was miserable; plus his behavior had not changed. I stopped giving him the Ritalin. “From now on,” I told him, “you are responsible for how you behave.”

I was 22 years old, and was very down with going against what the authorities said to do with my own child. If I didn’t want to give him meds, the hell with them

The first time I made my son sit in a time-out chair for 4 minutes (no talking, no getting up, no touching the floor, spitting, sighing loudly or clicking his tongue, etc…. or the timer was re-set)

…… took almost two hours.

Each timer re-set for getting up equaled one swat; and he was set back in the chair. I did not speak to him during the entire time; as that would have been a reward for his behavior.

He did not win. I had to win. I had to break his will. (not his spirit, his will) This was a one shot deal. If I had given in and bent the rules just a bit, to get it over with, to settle for good enough; because I was worn out, I would have failed him.

That was one of the most exhausting experiences of my entire life.

I made sure to find at least one thing, even on his bad days to praise him about…on some days, that took some doing…. “That was really nice, the way you walked by your brother without bothering him”

Parenting him was draining. After almost a year, yes, a year, the time outs became fewer & easier. The lashing out all but stopped. My perseverance  paid off.

One time there was this older neighbor kid in our yard, who was being an ass. He shoved my son. My son just turned and walked away….the kid kept shoving him, my son kept walking. I could tell he was pissed; but no blood was shed that day.  I watched this from the kitchen window; and that’s when I knew my kid had won. Not me…I just had to guide him, show him the way, become the parent he needed me to be; he was the winner.

*****Kiddie Bipolar? or Did Your Stubborn Kid Just Kick Your Butt?

***** a mini-rant by one who’s been there…

Trying everything “… sticking to ittakes time.

Settling for a bipolar preschooler, saying you’ve tried everything. …and a kid is not even in the 1st grade?

I have to call bullshit on that one.

It seems as if today’s parents are willing to invest more time into multiple drug trials then they are in providing consistent, positive reinforcement and discipline around their own homes.

Why? Probably because it is hard work.

Children are not accessories. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs on the face of the earth.

Change does not happen overnight. It does not happen in a few weeks. It takes several months of hard work and consistency to begin to see a change. It is not a quick fix. It is not an easy fix.

If your child is four or five years old, and you have tried everything and settled for a bipolar diagnosis; then you have not stucktoany one thing long enough.

Face it. You got tired. You gave up. The kid won. Try it again. I did. I was no more than a child myself when I had him; but I knew enough to not give up. I was not going to let some ornery little kid run my house, my life, or continue to hurt his brother, myself or other children….most of all, I was not going to watch him self destruct before his life had really begun.

Fight for your child.

Years later, I took dog training classes, the positive way to train dogs struck me as a good model for how to train to be a parent….because at dog training….it is really “owner training” and I thought, “Everyone should have to do this before having children….if only I’d known how to be consistent from the very beginning.” At those classes, you learn consistency…you see how happy and well behaved the out of control puppy becomes when he has a confident, consistent leader.

How did it all turn out?

I was lucky. My son, he did just fine. He has never been lacking for friends. He is slow to anger; although still a little impatient at times. He got through school; while there, he developed into a gifted musician and an athlete. As a young adult, he reached his childhood dream and became a fire fighter.

Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer says it best: “Rules, boundaries and limitations” “Exhibit calm and assertive energy”

Good advice for a pack leader and for a parent.

*** South Park, in their twisted way, even noticed the obvious and did an episode on this. :)

On a more serious note… these are old; but timeless really.

I found them helpful and not too preachy; and if you’re not into the God stuff, then take what you like, and leave the rest.

This is some good, common sense stuff.

The Strong Willed Child

Dare to Discipline

These served as my guides.

Before reading these, I disciplined in anger. I yelled. (I found out that was a reward to my son, it actually encouraged him to keep it up…..who’d have thought he enjoyed it? ) I discovered that receiving a swat if he got out of a time out chair was not abuse. I think between both of my sons, I only had to administer a total of 7 “spankings” and none past the age of 6.

Dog Whisperer vs. drugging babies…..I want to see that study, if they dare.

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Filed under: Family, bipolar disorder, life, mental health, personal, pharmaceuticals, psychiatric medications, psychology, rant | Tagged: bipolar in children, manic depression, mental health, parenting, psychology

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