Creativity and The Bipolar Child
If you have a child or teenager with bipolar disorder, you may find that there is a stream of profound creative amidst the often chaotic and confusing struggles that your child has as a result of unmanaged symptoms. You may be feeling that is would be even sad to lose that creativity as a sacrifice of stabilizing your child. You don’t have to.
In fact, the creativity that your child likely embodies may very well be the healing force that will ultimately keep your child motivated to follow a structured program that will ultimately bring him or her both stability and a healthy self esteem. By separating the gift of creativity from the disorganized through process and excessive energy that can be expressed during a manic phase a parent can assist his child in using his or her own creativity as a grounding force.
One way you might approach this, is to include your child in the development of the routine and structure that he/she will adhere to. Engage your child in creating his or her mood tracking calendars and in making his or her own schedules in addition to your usual enrichment activities. If you are able, enroll your child in an artistic or creative endeavor that he or she prefers. Allow your child to explore his/her talents until one catches his or her attention. Once you have found an activity that you feel engages your child and uses his or her natural abilities, have your child incorporate the skills building practice into the structure of the day.
This may sound like the average advice for all parenting; however, focusing on developing a structure that supports channeling your child’s energy and creativity throughout the day will have the additional benefit of providing a tool for your child to use as he/she grows into adulthood that can be used to manage both depression and mania. It is the combination of the structure and discipline and the healing use of creativity that can help to quiet the racing thoughts of a disorganized mind.
To make this tool even more effective while channeling the positive creativity in your child, consider teaching your child mindfulness now, while he/she is young; utilizing whatever method is congruent with your own cultural background. For example, you can teach a child to become aware of his/her thought and emotions, teach him/her to engage in meditative prayer or contemplation, or to utilize other methodologies of becoming aware, grounded in the here and now, and quieting one’s mind now. By learning these techniques, the child can expand this learning into managing and channeling emotions in a healthy and disciplined manner, which may then be expressed through the use of developed skills in a creative art form.
These tools when mastered become powerful and effective actives with which to help your child re connect with his/her creative spirit and regenerate when needed and can activate an organized creativity that can be channeled to produce therapeutic and meaningful art forms. By teaching your child how to channel this energy now, you empower your child to manage his/her symptoms as an adult and you provide a way to reconnect with himself/herself should an episode of mania or depression threaten his or her equilibrium or stability.
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