You spent the last few weeks of the school year dreaming about those long lazy days of summer. Days of fun, without schedules. Time for you and your child to explore the world on your own terms, time to bond, time to discover who your child really is. But when did your child get so moody?
If you’ve noticed your child engaging in mood swings that seem unwarranted, you might want to do some exploration to see if your child is just adjusting to a new routine, missing their classmates, feeling a bit lost, or if their actions and emotions are symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder.
Some things to notice about your child’s moods, and whether or not they are a symptom of BPD, include the following additional BPD symptoms:
- Inappropriate or intense anger
- Inability to self-regulate emotions
- Unstable sense of self
- Chronic boredom or feelings of emptiness
- Impulsive behaviors
While a lot of the above mentioned can be swept aside as effects of everything from puberty to video games, it’s important to note that a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder requires “a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity.”
Though Borderline Personality Disorder is often diagnosed in one’s early 20s, signs of BPD may appear during childhood and in the teenage years. Here are a few steps you can take to further investigate your concerns about your child to determine if it’s just general moodiness or mood swings that are symptomatic of Borderline Personality Disorder.
A good starting place would be to note when and where these mood swings are taking place. More importantly, how long these mood swings persist. Keeping a notepad and (discretely) taking notes can be helpful. If your child experiences outbursts of irritability regularly in the afternoon, it could be fatigue, hunger, a drop in blood sugar, or heat frustration. A specific time of day could be informative to a medical professional when trying to make a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.
Re-Read the Teacher’s Notes
Chances are, your child’s teachers took some pretty good notes on their behavior during the school year. Read over those again to see if they match up with your concerns. Sure, you probably already glanced at them, but you might have a fresh eye when you look at them again. See if you missed anything, specifically regarding any mood swings or the other above symptoms of BPD. Have these notes handy when talking to a professional about your concerns.
Get a Physical
A physical check-up might be in order. Pain, lack of sleep, or vitamin deficiency can cause a lot of behavior problems, and especially young children may have trouble really identifying and verbalizing pain. Older children may not want to discuss pain out of embarrassment or out of the unwillingness to go to their pediatrician or dentist to get it checked out. No one wants to sit in a lobby and then be examined on a summer’s day. It might be tough for you to get this information out of your child, but you’ll need to determine the cause of their mood swings, which may mean seeking a professional’s help.
Join a Day Camp
Studies show that children and adolescents with Borderline Personality Disorder traits benefit from day programs that feature strong behavioral management elements. These studies were likely talking about outpatient Dialectical Behavior Therapy treatment programs, but let’s talk baby steps.
If you are still unsure whether you are dealing with BPD or general moodiness, explore your community. Find some day camps at a local zoo or museum, or get involved with your local parks and rec. Monitor your child’s progress, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally, in these situations and see if symptoms improve. These situations will offer a chance for socialization with peers as well as a break from what might be experienced from your child’s point of view as the monotony of long, lazy summer days.
Only a medical professional can truly diagnose anyone with Borderline Personality Disorder. If you are still uncertain about your child’s mood swings and behaviors, contact a professional trained in diagnosing and treating Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms.
Once you find out where you child’s mood swings stem from, you’ll be able to take the appropriate actions to address them and better enjoy what the summer has to offer.