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Flexible? I'm Flexible as Long as You Do It My Way!

Homeschooling a child that is bipolar requires flexibility beyond human abilities! Did you know that when raising a child with a problem that is difficult to control (such as ADHD or bipolar disorder) the parent(s) may become "hyper-controlling" in the hope of being able to control something?

I live in this "hyper-controlling" state and have to keep myself in check all day long.

So what does hyper-controlling mean? It means you try to control every little thing that happens in your life from what your family has for dinner to how much toilet paper they use!!! So, you can see how you might need to stop that! I still try to control things but I am much better about it.

At least I try to control things that won't set my daughter into a rage.

Being flexible means the opposite of being hyper-controlling. It means you have to take a lot of deep breaths, bite your tongue, and take your own time outs. It means when your child wants to put ketchup on grapes you say "Why not?", when they want to build a fort you say "Sure after your school work is done".

Or, being truly, very flexible you can say, let's make that a school project!

"First let's figure out what we need, make a list of the materials, measure things, do a budget, etc." Or you could leave out the whole list of things that need to be done and start with the first thing......"Where do you want to build it?" Turn it into a school project without them even knowing what you are doing!

Homeschooling requires flexibility of any parent, no matter the child. Because life gets in the way! Doctor's appointments, broken washing machine, cooking dinner, car break downs, etc. The list goes on and on.

What you have to do is find a way to make school a priority on specific days and between specific times.

 I try to set all appointments after three o'clock, so we have time for school. But it doesn't always work that way.

Homeschooling a child with bipolar disorder requires even more flexibility, because bipolar gets in the way. Unstable children cannot do much in school. But maybe they can do art work or listen to the lesson your are presenting, but they can't sit and write or do worksheets.

Managing a child's bipolar disorder also means being flexible.

  • They want to take their medicine a certain way? Separating all the pink pills together, all the big ones together? Who cares, as long as they take it?
  • They want to dance while you present a lesson, well do they remember what you are talking about? If so, then let them dance away!
  • The doctor is only available two days a week in your town. You have no choice.......miss an activity, leave park day early, shorten your school day......doctor appointments take priority.
  • You want them to have good table manners. They want to eat with their fingers. Well, this is one you might have to insist on (we do) but we have to insist on it every meal!
  • Your child is unstable but you are so far behind in school you need to catch up? Well, too bad, you can't force them to be stable when they aren't! So be flexible, be creative. Read their story to them a t bedtime (unless it's a strong story you don't want them taking into their dreams).
  • They are scared at night and want to be near you. My daughter sleeps on the couch often. I don't like it, she takes forever to clean up the couch in the morning. But it's that or her in our room complaining about being scared, or one of us in her room trying to get her to sleep.


Math work done on the board instead of paper.

How to be Flexible in the Face of Bipolar Disorder

If your child is.....

  • Unable to sit still and do "paper work" for school....use a blackboard (a big one) and colored chalk and have them write on the board. Hint: Take a picture so you have a record of the work.
  • Highly irritable and on the verge of blowing up.....send them outside to ride their bike, run up and down the street, jump on a trampoline. Hint: Call it PE time and write it down!
  • Getting frustrated because they can't make what they are working on 'perfect'.......put the work aside until the next day, until Friday and make Friday "fix it day". Hint: Use "fix it day" for making corrections on all the work they do that week.
  • Unable to sleep at night.....let them sleep late, start school a bit later and extend school time if they can. Hint: Keep your rhythm even if your schedule is off by time, keep the rhythm of the day once they wake up.
  • Highly distractible, turn off the phone, put a sign on the doorbell, let friends and family know that you have uninterrupted time for school. Hint: Turn off the phone, don't just say 'we won't answer it'.
  • On the verge of a rage, step back, get out of their way, don't provoke the rage. This is much harder to do than it sounds.
  • Angry with the world don't take it personally. No matter who was standing in front of them would provoke their anger, it isn't you.
  • Angry with your rules, again don't take it personally. Make the rules simply the rules. Be calm, be ready to let it go if they get violent. Be matter of fact.
  • Being rude and nasty to you, again, don't take it personally (right, you can only hear "you are mean" so many times before it hurts) and remember that they don't want to be this way. I think my biggest downfall is my sarcastic humor (that I learned from my dad). My daughter has learned it too! It hurts!


 Copyright 2005-2006 Starlite School.
For problems or questions regarding this Web site contact info@therapeutichomeschooling.org
Last updated: 08/31/06.