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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
DH and I are having a continued disagreement over something, and I need more input from people outside the situation.

DS (4) has recently started putting rope and string around his neck and pulling it tight. I've also caught him with plastic bags over his head when I'm putting away groceries. We've talked repeatedly about why we don't do that, but he still does it.

DH says this is normal behavior, but I don't think it is.

As background to consider, I have bipolar disorder and was diagnosed under what would now be called pediatric bipolar. DS is being evaluated for it as well. BP kids have a tendency to make these kinds of "gestures" (for lack of a better word) because they're miserable when they cannot control their minds (mostly when they're manic). So DH thinks I'm just viewing his behavior through the BP lens, but I'm honestly concerned.

Do other people's kids do this? Is it just "a phase?"
 

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Any kid I have ever known does this. That does not mean its ok to let them because obviously it’s not safe. But unless he is showing signs of wanting to hurt him self I would not worry about it.
 

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I don't know that I would jump to the conclusion that the behavior is bipolar related.

BUT, that kind of behavior would definitely concern me from a safety point of view. It doesn't take long to cut off an air supply, and kids have died or been severely brain damaged from doing it. I would definitely keep all ropes, strings, bags, and similar things out of his reach. Plastic grocery bags can be dangerous because they sometimes have those little tabs of plastic that break off of them which can cover a child's airway if they breathe it in.

Does your son seem unhappy (angry, withdrawn, sad) otherwise? What is his reaction when you remove the rope or bag? What is his emotional affect like at the time? Does he seem angry? Playful? Unhappy? Is he getting a kick out of your reaction to it? Does he seem to feel compelled to do it?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Cherie2 View Post
Any kid I have ever known does this. That does not mean its ok to let them because obviously it's not safe. But unless he is showing signs of wanting to hurt him self I would not worry about it.
I agree that all kids do that at one point or another. My dd used to do it until her face turned red. We finally got her to stop. Just say "that's not safe" and take the item away. Lather, rinse, repeat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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Originally Posted by rainyday View Post
Does your son seem unhappy (angry, withdrawn, sad) otherwise? What is his reaction when you remove the rope or bag? What is his emotional affect like at the time? Does he seem angry? Playful? Unhappy? Is he getting a kick out of your reaction to it? Does he seem to feel compelled to do it?
He's in a mixed state right now. He alternates between extreme rage and uncontrollable crying. He's pissed off, yeah. The general belief is that some BP kids do it not because they're trying to kill themselves but because they can't shut off their mind. It's hard to explain, but I'm manic right now and haven't slept since Wednesday. Last week, I slept an hour a night from Tuesday until Saturday. I'm tired, but my mind just.won't.stop.

I'll feel more comfortable if it's normal - at least in the sense that it's not an escalation of his symptoms. I've just never known a kid who did it more than once or twice. This has become a daily thing for us.

When I catch him, I walk over and take whatever it is and go over that we don't put things around our necks. He's not upset or angry or anything really. He just looks at me and then moves to another activity.
 

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Brandi, the only one of my kids who did NOT do it was the one who is severely autistic


my other kids did it repeatedly over the course of probably six to nine months, between three and six years old. Just one of those parenting things that you
but definitely keep an eye on it. If you seriously think he is bipolar, it would be worth writing down and tracking for later paperworks/screenings.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rainyday View Post
I don't know that I would jump to the conclusion that the behavior is bipolar related.

BUT, that kind of behavior would definitely concern me from a safety point of view. It doesn't take long to cut off an air supply, and kids have died or been severely brain damaged from doing it. I would definitely keep all ropes, strings, bags, and similar things out of his reach. Plastic grocery bags can be dangerous because they sometimes have those little tabs of plastic that break off of them which can cover a child's airway if they breathe it in.

Does your son seem unhappy (angry, withdrawn, sad) otherwise? What is his reaction when you remove the rope or bag? What is his emotional affect like at the time? Does he seem angry? Playful? Unhappy? Is he getting a kick out of your reaction to it? Does he seem to feel compelled to do it?

:

I say it's NOT normal for this to be a daily occurrence.
 

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I vote not normal. Trying it out? Maybe, but continuously engaging in activity that cuts oxygen off? Not normal.

Since you have a potential diagnosis, you might instictively be thinking that he's engaging in risk taking behaviors. That was my gut instinct.

Not to say that it's because of the bipolar, but it doesn't sound right. I'm bipolar btw.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
He's in a mixed state right now. He alternates between extreme rage and uncontrollable crying. He's pissed off, yeah. The general belief is that some BP kids do it not because they're trying to kill themselves but because they can't shut off their mind. It's hard to explain, but I'm manic right now and haven't slept since Wednesday. Last week, I slept an hour a night from Tuesday until Saturday. I'm tired, but my mind just.won't.stop.

I'll feel more comfortable if it's normal - at least in the sense that it's not an escalation of his symptoms. I've just never known a kid who did it more than once or twice. This has become a daily thing for us.

When I catch him, I walk over and take whatever it is and go over that we don't put things around our necks. He's not upset or angry or anything really. He just looks at me and then moves to another activity.

Just wondering if this has been going on for a while or if this is new.
I would agree with the PPs in saying that this behavior is normal to a certian extent. I can remember wrapping an elastic around my finger as a child to watch it turn purple.


when you said that you are manic right now do you think that maybe he is reacting to your moods somewhat? Or possibly as a way of dealing with stress?
 

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I vote normal. I did it myself, but with pillows instead of bags. My little bro used bags. Dangerous and silly, yes! But in our cases, at least, not a sign of anything deeper going on.

Of course, if you are really worried about it, you should definitely bring it up with your physician/psychiatrist. I think we should usually respect our gut instincts. There's no harm in asking someone with more expertise.
 

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I'm surprised at the number of people who say this is normal. My kid (just turned 6) has never done this. And none of my friends has ever mentioned their kids doing this. So, my very limited experience is that this is not normal. Given the other issues you are seeing and the persistence of the behavior, I would tend to think you are right to be concerned about it.

Catherine
 

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Neither of my kids has ever done this. They're very cautious kids and once I have told them something is dangerous they're likely to avoid it for the rest of their lives even when it's no longer a big deal, like cutting paper with scissors or something.

I really have never heard of this complaint before in my circle of parent friends so I'm going to say it's not something all kids go through or surely it would have come up in conversation in my 8 years of being a mom.

My kids have worn necklaces and have occasionally gotten them too tight, or maybe they've been playing "dog" with a "leash" around the neck, but putting a rope or string around the neck is not something that they do for fun just in and of itself. It's part of a larger pretend game. I've cautioned them many times about plastic bags and I don't think they'd ever put one over their heads. They might do a pillow case, but I've not cautioned them about that since I don't think that's inherently dangerous. Maybe you could ask for paper bags on your next grocery run?
 

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I'm surprised by the answers. My first reaction was NOT NORMAL. None of my kids have done this so far anyway. I never did either and really would not have thought to do such a thing. No other parents I know or have known have mentioned it either. I really hope none of my kids do this, I know kids have died from doing such things
so I know some kids do it but I didn't thing it was the norm.
 

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I vote not normal also. A younger child trying it once or twice, maybe, but that age can usually understand and won't do it. None of mine did it at that age and no little ones that I've been around have done it more than once when they were younger. I hope you find out what is bothering him.
 

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I have my own children (who are "normal kids") and I worked for 15 yrs with emotionally distrubed and mentally ill children.

This would concern me.

Yes, most kids will do it once or twice- curiosity, reaction, whatever. A few will take to using it as a tool (sort of like "I'll hold my breath if I don't get a candy bar!") but with kids who do have issues, it could very well be more (or turn into more). It could become a tool (as you described) for turning themselves "off" or to reduce their awareness or create an altered state due to lack of oxygen (self "medicating"). It is fundamentally a self-injurious activity and could escalate or be used as tool to attempt to manipulate others or self-injury could begin to feel good and the child might try other activities. Unfortunatey, it also sets up a very serious "practice" type scenario for hard times. And the dangers of him doing this while in another room are obvious.

I know to mamas that don't have any experience with troubled or ill children, it seems very extreme to "make these leaps". I know that even imagining that a small child could think these things may seem "too much" (though it, sadly, is not). And "regular kids" DO sort of do these things (but abandon them very quickly). If this child was not being considered for bi-polar disorder, I would not be too worried (as long as they were essentially safe) and would suggest that it is a phase and will pass with protection and an explination of the danger involved and would expect that they would stop doing it in short order (especially if it hurt or they got woozy from lack of oxygen- that would scare the bejeezes out of most kids and parents and would put a quick stop to that). But with potential mental illness, the picture does indeed change dramatically.

I would document this and see if it corresponds to other manic behavior. I would make sure it was mentioned to the psychiatrist involved in the diagnosis (and explain the situations involved in the behavior). I would remove all strings/ropes and bags from the house and I would not leave him unsupervised (not even in the other room) as sometimes kids maybe mean to DO these things but then end up not being able to get out of them.

I hate to reaffirm your fear and wish I could say "Ah, all kids do it. Don't worry about it!" and though MOST kids DO do it at some time, it may very well NOT be the same as when YOUR child is doing it and if I were you, I would take this seriously. And I would never let him out of my sight. Maybe even arm's reach.

I'm sorry.

Best wishes and healing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
These comments pretty much echo the conversation dh and I are having. I did talk to my therapist this morning, and he said it's a concerning behavior given everything else going on with DS. For now, we're just watching, but really I'm trying to decide if it's something we should tell the child psych we see in August.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Porcelain Interior View Post
I vote not normal. Trying it out? Maybe, but continuously engaging in activity that cuts oxygen off? Not normal.

Since you have a potential diagnosis, you might instictively be thinking that he's engaging in risk taking behaviors. That was my gut instinct.

Not to say that it's because of the bipolar, but it doesn't sound right. I'm bipolar btw.
Actually, gestures like this are one of the hallmarks for pediatric bipolar disorder. Engaging in risky behavior such as that is really common with pediatric bipolar. Some children try to jump out of cars or off of playground structures instead.

People respond differently to the disease once they get older. I'm bipolar as well (Early onset, but not pediatric. It hit me right around puberty).

I agree, this is NOT NORMAL. Has this child been evaluated by a psychiatrist or child therapist? If not, he needs to be asap. You may want to make a chart or keep some other type of record of his moods so the doctor has something to go on, because bipolar is difficult to diagnose in a one hour session, especially with a child.

OP, I noticed you said you are manic at the moment and have been up for days. That can lead to all kinds of problems for you and your family as well. Are you taking anything for your bipolar? Are you in therapy?
 

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Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
These comments pretty much echo the conversation dh and I are having. I did talk to my therapist this morning, and he said it's a concerning behavior given everything else going on with DS. For now, we're just watching, but really I'm trying to decide if it's something we should tell the child psych we see in August.
is there any way you can get in before August?
 

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I don't think that's normal. I've never heard of younger children doing that on a regular basis, and my friends and I certainly never did. I know teenagers do it sometimes to get "high".
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
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Originally Posted by Talula Fairie View Post
Actually, gestures like this are one of the hallmarks for pediatric bipolar disorder.
That's why it frightened me. He hasn't done anything this "severe" before, but I don't want to jump to conclusions.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Talula Fairie View Post
If not, he needs to be asap. You may want to make a chart or keep some other type of record of his moods so the doctor has something to go on, because bipolar is difficult to diagnose in a one hour session, especially with a child.
I haven't thought about a mood chart for him. Thanks. I'll start one for him since we definitely notice patterns.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Talula Fairie View Post
OP, I noticed you said you are manic at the moment and have been up for days. That can lead to all kinds of problems for you and your family as well. Are you taking anything for your bipolar? Are you in therapy?
I'm in therapy and on meds. Unfortunately my meds have stopped being as effective, so I'm tapering off to get on something new. I took sleeping pills last night, though, so I actually got 5 hours of sleep!
 
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