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Thread: Need some advice regarding my niece.

  1. #1

    Default Need some advice regarding my niece.

    OK, So a little bit of background on this.

    My 13 year old niece exhibits signs of being bipolar. Now, she is constantly being punished for her actions. Everything punishment is very nominal, grounding, taking away items like cell phone, make-up, hair straightener, etc. anytime she is punished she takes it as if her parents have beat her.

    Now, she is constantly claiming that she will change and for a few days she does, but after that it's right back into the same old routine. She has a habit of taking everything as granted.

    Now, since I don't have any children of my own I really don't know how to help her and her family fix the situation, or a way to motivate her to actually change.

    I have already brought this up on chat and a lot of people share the same thoughts I do. Either having her visit a correctional facility for a day or two, having her admitted into an institutional facility for a couple of days, and/or having her see a child psychologist.

    I would prefer to do the Psychologist route, however between her family and myself we don't have enough money to support it over a decent amount of time and the other routes seem a little over board.

    If you have any ideas please let me know.
    I thank you all in advance for any help.

    Be well

  2. #2


    You say she is being punished for her actions, but you don't really give us any information with regards to what her actions are. What is she actually being punished for? What sort of trouble is she getting into or causing? What does she need to change? Have her family offered her the support and alternatives she needs to change?

    Without really knowing more specifics about the situation, and the actions/issues your niece is being punished for and that your family want to seek help for it's difficult to offer any real advice. Can you offer more information about the sort of negative actions that are worrying the family?

  3. #3


    This is true very well.

    So, the terribly short story is that she tries to manipulate everyone in order to get them to sympothize with her. Now, no matter the case, if she doesn't get her way she throws a manic fit. Which results at first a piss poor additude, where she tries to legitimize her actions using sterotyped generalizations. Now, once someone tells her to calm down it escalates to where she storms off to her room, and begins not just crying but straight wailing, as if everyone she knows had died. That goes on for about 1-2 hours or until she hears someone trying to discuss the situation. From there, it turns into either coming out of her room or one of the parents telling her to get out of her room. Sometimes, she comes out apologizes and swears she will change for the better, or she comes out ready to fight. Where the only way to calm her down is to take her to the ground, mount, and subdue her until she calms down. After which, we all sit down, and talk about whatever the situation, So that we can understand her reasoning and she can understand ours, why she was wrong, what she should have done instead.

    This is the never ending cycle.

    To give an example.

    Today we gave her an Ipod Touch, as a present. When she received it she was extremely happy. However, when we mentioned that we put on the parental controls to filter content to be pg-13. She, freaked out, saying that there was no point to having an ipod if she couldn't use it. Now, in trying to explain why we would setup a pg-13 filter for a 13 year old, she some how conceived that we weren't going to let her use it at all. Which, started the loop of trying to calm her down and explain. Now, at this time her parents 15 month had just laid down to sleep. So, as a general rule, If the baby is trying to sleep everyone does things quietly. Knowing this she stomps off to her room. ok, no problem, then she starts doing the (everyone I know is dead) wailing cry of attention which lasts up until my brother and I take our parents back to the airport, the round trip takes about 2 hours. Once we get back my brother's wife tells us that her wailing had scared her 6 year old son. OK, thats understandable. But, then she commences cleaning her room by throwing all of her stuff into his room and going on a rant that she hates Christmas and it was the worst one ever, blah blah blah. I wasn't there for it, so I wont dwell. Now that we are back we decide to sit down and discuss what happened. She starts by apologizing, like always. Then makes accusations based on opinions that she has created based off of selective hearing.

    To generalize she is manic depressive, has issues with authority figures, is a habitual liar, and doesn't learn from her mistakes. fucked up thing is, she is an honor student.

    Hopefully this helps a bit.

    EDIT Additional Info

    as far as an example of punishment, she asked for a hair cut, so we tell her that after school the next day we will get her hair cut. She decides that she is going to take scissors to her hair and do it herself. The punishment, not taking her to get her hair fixed for a few days.

    Was it harsh, maybe a little embarrassing when she was with her friends, but no.
    Last edited by Addy; 26-Dec-2010 at 03:38. Reason: added some more info

  4. #4


    Her behavior does seem beyond normal for a teenager. I agree that a psychologist is the best first option. You said money is an issue, and while I don't know your area at all, I would hope that there are services available that can either help pay for the cost of even provide a psychologist/therapist at no expense. These may be through either a private group or provided by state services such as CPS. I'm not trying to suggest your niece is heading to delinquency, but you may also be able to find help in diversion programs that I would hope exist in your area (not all require contact with the courts). Again, not knowing your area its hard to suggest resources, but you could obviously call the CPS office in your area, though my first thought would be to contact her school (assuming she's not home schooled). The public school system I went through had licensed counselors on staff at all of the buildings. I hope this helps and for the best results of whatever path you take.

  5. #5



    I'm new to North Carolina so I'm not to familiar with the state services, but, this gives me something to look into. I do agree that she is heading towards delinquency, since I'm up at the court a lot due to work I think looking into a diversion program would be beneficial, I'm glad you brought that up I hadn't even thought about it. As for her school, It's a private school, I know some of her teachers but I don't know enough about the schools faculty to know what the counselor situation is. Once again though, this was another route I hadn't thought about, thanks again.

  6. #6


    Psychologists tend to avoid even trying to diagnose people under 20 or so as bi-polar, just because of the way children/teens can be growing up. In this case, it definitely sounds like more than 'typical' moodswings and whatnot... especially since she realizes something's wrong with her behavior, tries to change it, and can't. If possible, I'd try to see someone, maybe get her to talk to a counselor. At the very least, it might help her work out some of this and start to turn it around.

  7. #7


    I did some web searches, and as I can tell, there isn't a government department in your state for general child therapy/psychological issues. The child services site states they're for crimes and fatalities, sadly.

    It depends how much you're willing to do, but if it were me (I do too much instead of too little), I would go to her school and ask the faculty for resources you can use. If a teacher doesn't know, go up the chain to office staff or principal. Don't give up, and tell them what you told us so they understand.

    Again, just me (I worry a lot), but it's the kind of problem that sounds like it will only get worse in time. I'm a little worried for her safety in her later teens, from your accounts.

  8. #8


    Your niece's behavior sounds similar to my brother's (who happens to be bi-polar amongst other things) and psychotherapy or seeing a counselor is an option her parents might want to look into (if money becomes less of an issue). They might even want to look into having her tested/evaluated/whatever it is they do to find out what people have/checked out to see if she really is bi-polar and go from there.

    That being said, I would suggest for you to try to not get involved seeing as you're not one of her parents (of course there's probably a reason you want to get involved, but none of us know the entire situation). My extended family has tried to get involved with trying to help us deal with my brother and it really has done nothing beneficial for our situation. Honestly, unless you live with them or are constantly effected by it (not just at times when you see her), don't get involved.

  9. #9

    Default Trying to help

    PHP Code:
    [QUOTE=Adinaonar;537416]This is true very well.

    Sothe terribly short story is that she tries to manipulate everyone in order to get them to sympothize with herNowno matter the case, if she doesn't get her way she throws a manic fit. Which results at first a piss poor additude, where she tries to legitimize her actions using sterotyped generalizations. Now, once someone tells her to calm down it escalates to where she storms off to her room, and begins not just crying but straight wailing, as if everyone she knows had died. That goes on for about 1-2 hours or until she hears someone trying to discuss the situation. From there, it turns into either coming out of her room or one of the parents telling her to get out of her room. Sometimes, she comes out apologizes and swears she will change for the better, or she comes out ready to fight. Where the only way to calm her down is to take her to the ground, mount, and subdue her until she calms down. After which, we all sit down, and talk about whatever the situation, So that we can understand her reasoning and she can understand ours, why she was wrong, what she should have done instead. 

    This is the never ending cycle. 

    To give an example. 

    Today we gave her an Ipod Touch, as a present. When she received it she was extremely happy. However, when we mentioned that we put on the parental controls to filter content to be pg-13. She, freaked out, saying that there was no point to having an ipod if she couldn'
    use itNowin trying to explain why we would setup a pg-13 filter for a 13 year oldshe some how conceived that we weren't going to let her use it at all. Which, started the loop of trying to calm her down and explain. Now, at this time her parents 15 month had just laid down to sleep. So, as a general rule, If the baby is trying to sleep everyone does things quietly. Knowing this she stomps off to her room. ok, no problem, then she starts doing the (everyone I know is dead) wailing cry of attention which lasts up until my brother and I take our parents back to the airport, the round trip takes about 2 hours. Once we get back my brother's wife tells us that her wailing had scared her 6 year old sonOKthats understandableButthen she commences cleaning her room by throwing all of her stuff into his room and going on a rant that she hates Christmas and it was the worst one everblah blah blahI wasn't there for it, so I wont dwell. Now that we are back we decide to sit down and discuss what happened. She starts by apologizing, like always. Then makes accusations based on opinions that she has created based off of selective hearing. 

    To generalize she is manic depressive, has issues with authority figures, is a habitual liar, and doesn'
    t learn from her mistakesfucked up thing isshe is an honor student

    Hopefully this helps a bit.

    EDIT Additional Info

    as far as an example of punishmentshe asked for a hair cutso we tell her that after school the next day we will get her hair cutShe decides that she is going to take scissors to her hair and do it herselfThe punishmentnot taking her to get her hair fixed for a few days

    Was it harshmaybe a little embarrassing when she was with her friendsbut no.[/QUOTE
    This behaviour is so unbelievably similar to my younger brother when he was between the ages of 7 and 12.

    Some things we already knew about him. He was dyslexic and had audio dyslexia too. This meant that when he hears things he only hears what he was expecting to hear unless you tell him to concentrate completely and fully.

    What we decided to do was to take him to some anger management courses at the child psychologist (honestly about a month later he was MUCH better, it shouldn't take the time you're conceiving to alter the problem UNLESS she is actually bipolar. Though,were she bipolar, I feel this cycle would be slightly different, as she would have some insane highs where she felt she was on top of the world and nothing could bring her down.

    Although you have to pay for your health care in America, and I have heard some dodgy stories about some of the psychologists that practice psychology in America, I still feel it is worth at least going once or twice, just to see if they can find a problem (hopefully you don't go to a freudian psychologist, as they will make sure you keep going back for multiple sessions by "trying to find the root of the problem")

    A few years ago now (when he was 12) we got him a computer (it was second hand, but what does a 12 year old REALLY use a comp for?) Anyways, me being good with computers, I told him that I put parental blocks on it so he couldn't use certain websites. Much like your niece he had a tantrum and went off crying for about 1/2 an hour saying we practically "stopped him from using the computer by stopping the internet." I assume, much like your niece, he heard only what he expected to hear from "blocks" and he had one of those tantrums you spoke about where my mother had to mount him in order to calm him down.

    When confronted later he was still upset, though slightly calmer, he told me that he didn't want his computer because it was "useless without the internet" and I told him I didn't block EVERYTHING, only certain sites. And he told me that I didn't say that before, that I said I had put a control on so he couldn't use the internet at all.

    If any of this sounds familiar then I think you should at least TRY a psychologist/psychiatrist. (if they are just looking for the root of the problem for the first month's sessions and there is little improvement after a month or 2 they probably aren't very good at their job)

    ALSO, some quick-fix methods that we felt worked well (the psychologist we saw recommended we do these)

    Introduce these by having a family meeting, where everybody gets a chance to have their say. You must make sure they hear what you are saying and don't hear selectively. If she doesn't like the idea, don't bring it forward (though many children like the idea of seeing their parents being punished in the same way they are, as it makes them feel as though they are no longer being victimised)

    Although seen as childish, the "count to 10 before you react" method works well. IF you use it, explain to her before you bring it in to place that everyone in the house will be doing it, (therefore reducing the embarrassment for her having to do it, so she is more likely to actually participate)

    The naughty step is also useful. Once again, the entire family must participate in order to reduce the levels of embarrassment (also the same amount of time for the same offence must be used across the board so if you would punish her for throwing a tantrum, if anyone else in the house instigates shouting at another time, they will have the exact same punishment, no exceptions.) If she feels she is being victimised and is the only one with the punishments, they won't work.

    Any other things you can think of to stop a quick reaction or to deter her from doing the actions again can be brought in, but if you just ground her or take her cell continuously, then she knows what the potential punishment could be. I think that for each offense that is the same, increase the punishment. so maybe the grounding starts off as 1 day, then 2 etc for each offence or the banning of items is increased from 1 week to 2, to 3 etc. That way she will really think twice before doing it a few times, as the punishments will last longer than she can cope with.

    1. Hope this post helped you
    2. sorry for the stupid number of brackets I used throughout the post, but I really like brackets

  10. #10


    Without reading all the above posts, im not sure if this has been mentioned yet. Bipolar spectrum disorders can be a living hell for everyone involved. I know someone above mentioned possibly taking advantage of services such as psychologists. I highly recommend a psychologist or therapist in combination with a good psychiatrist. I found through my experience that the psychiatrist can prescribe medications that can alter the brains chemical imbalances if there are any. One thing that my one professor pointed out though that a medicinal approach will not only affect the chemical causing the problem, but all the others as well leading to more problems sometimes.
    The thing that Ive found have helped my mood swings (violent at times) would be behavioral management. Instead of flipping out I learned to quietly excuse myself and go to my room. For the most part my room has become my sanctuary and when the door is shut, my parents know that they probably shouldn't bother me. Instead of screaming and crying I started to write down what I was thinking, I used to have a nasty habit of bottling things up inside and snapping at the worst possible times. Getting things down on paper gives me a route to get it all out and a way to organize my thoughts so I can find a solution.

    I also noticed that you said she has a tendency to try and manipulate people into doing things. I have this same trait and even though I know that it isn't totally gone I am improving. Having her do things purely to help other people that wont really gain her anything such as volunteering will help. Another thing that seems to come with manipulation is interrupting people and jumping to conclusions before you have all the facts. My therapist noticed that I did that and had my parents continue to talk even when I try to interrupt, after a while I learned to wait my turn.

    There are a lot of other ways to deal with these problems and what worked for me may not work for her, every ones different. I suggest that you do a bit of reading on bipolar spectrum disorders so that you can understand it a bit better and come up with your own ideas.
    Best of luck and Merry late Christmas!

    Dave (or Lexie)
    Your friendly local basket cast/student nurse

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