Raising a child who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder is not easy, and it can be challenging to do the simplest things such as finding child care. If you have a child with bipolar disorder or symptoms of that disorder, you need to choose your daycare carefully. Here are five elements the child care centre you select should have:
1. Small child to caretaker ratio
Children with bipolar disorder usually need a lot of attention. They may have behavioral issues that require more supervision than other kids of similar ages, or they may become easily overwhelmed in large and hectic groups. For these reasons, you should look for a facility with small numbers of children compared to caregivers.
2. Progressive discipline practises
Children with bipolar disorder are often more sensitive than other children. While they need clear boundaries, they do not need discipline based on shame. Some shame-based discipline practises including time outs in a corner, writing a child's name on the board or anything else that puts the child's misbehavior into a public spectacle.
Instead, look for a day care centre with progressive discipline practises and a large amount of respect between caretakers and children. Children can be held responsible for their actions without being embarrassed in front of their peers.
3. Willingness to dispense medication
If your child takes medication for his or her bipolar symptoms, you need a child care centre willing to dispense those medications. If you control symptoms through diet, you obviously need a centre that is open to that and willing to monitor any snacking your child does.
4. Experience with children with mental health issues
Ideally, your child's caretakers should have experience dispensing medicine so they fully understand how to avoid overdoing or how to ascertain when a child may need extra medication in some situations. In addition to helping medicate your child, caretakers should also be experienced with dealing with other mental health issues.
For example, if your child is a flight risk, the caretakers need to be experienced at following and approaching these kids without scaring them to run further or into traffic. If your child is prone to violent outbursts, the caretakers need to know how to physically restrain the child without hurting him or her.
5. Part-time options
In some cases, children with bipolar disorder may not be ready for full-time child care. However, that doesn't mean you don't need a break once in a while. So that you can get occasional respite, look for a child care centre with part-time or drop-off options. Even if you start at full-time, that gives you flexibility to respond to your child's needs and drop to part time as needed.