Bipolar Tips for Teachers:
Students with Bipolar
Parents: Working with the School
These are some helpful bipolar tips for teachers working with students who have bipolar, emotional/behavioral disorders at school. You as the parent may need to communicate these
ideas to your child’s teacher. Find the ones that you know work at home with your child, make a list and talk about it with your child’s teacher.
Remember, you are not only helping your child to do better at school, but you are also helping the teacher (you may need to explain this to them) by giving them the tools and
instructions for working with your child – that translates to less problems for the teacher and less work trying to figure out how to deal with your child.
Helping your child's teacher understand how to effectively deal with your child is the purpose of each of these bipolar tips for teachers.
• Talk with the student about physiological symptoms that happen right before they start to escalate (i.e. clenching fists, sweating, eyes watering, etc.).
• Let them know that you will try to help them at that point (before the meltdown or before they blow up) if they can work out a signal or a way of telling to that they are escalating.
• You may be able to watch for symptoms as you get to know the student.
• Brainstorm with the student ideas of ways he can calm himself down (i.e. walk, draw, journaling, specific exercises, etc.).
• Always use a non-threatening tone of voice, very matter of fact and non-confrontational – especially when the student is becoming agitated.
• Do not ask “why” questions. (i.e. “Why did you do that?”) This will frustrate the both of you. Instead ask “how” or “what” questions. (i.e. “What needs to happen, or “How can we
work this out?” Remember that ANY questioning may be viewed as interrogation.
• Be proactive instead of reactive. Make a plan with the student on how you will both handle it next time the student begins to escalate. Be sure the student has a lot of input of this
won’t work. Be very specific such as “When you feel tense, sweating, you will tell me you need to leave the room”; “You will go to the library (or other designated place) for blank
minutes and do this activity; After blank minutes, you will return to class or let me know you need additional minutes.
• Sometime (not always) physical proximity works – only with the students permission ahead of time. (i.e. when student begins to escalate, the teacher stands near or places hand on
student’s shoulder). Remember that if the student has a history of abuse, control over personal space will be a very important to them.
• De-escalation, after student has cooled off, makes sure to give the student a chance to tell their side of the story and that no judgment has been made assuming it is their entire
• Reassure the student that this is just a problem and that it is solvable so that student knows it is not “the end of the world”!
These bipolar tips can make life in the classroom so much easier for the teacher - which of course is your big selling point to gain the initial buy in, but also that your child will not just
be more successful, but happier and more well adjusted as well. A win-win situation!
In addition, you may work out details with the teacher for seating, safety, and de-escalation procedures, in accordance with or in addition to what is written in the Individual Education
Effective communication is the key to building a good working relationship with your child’s school and teachers. This works well as bipolar tips for teachers, but also for any child in
This takes time, effort, and collaboration to achieve – and a pan of brownies couldn’t hurt! Seriously, this is the area you can have the most impact and help your child be successful in
a school environment.