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Please help me to understand toddler behavior/violence


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I recently asked for book recommendations on tough toddlers. I have a few on my list to read, but in the meantime I'm having a REALLY hard time handling DS's violent outbursts.

 

Anytime he doesn't get his way he hits/kicks/bites/headbutts me. I'm typing this as he sits in timeout due to headbutting me in the eyebrow (OUCH!).

 

I understand it is a communication issue to some extent. I've been trying to get him to use his words (I'm mad or the like) for over a year now. I've tried to show him acceptable ways to express his frustration/anger (yelling loudly, stomping his feet, etc). I've tried loving him through it (hugs, kisses, cuddling), but that just results in me getting hurt physically. We put him in timeout when he acts out physically, but it doesn't seem to be changing his behavior. I've tried offering acceptable choices to prevent the anger in the first place - he just screams "no!" and gets angrier because it's not what he wants. I'm at a loss. I don't know what else to do.

 

I currently have a bruise on my arm where he pinched me, scabs on my face where he scratched me, and a throbbing eyebrow. Yesterday I tried just holding him tightly through a tantrum to prevent him from hurting himself or me - just until he calmed down. He fought me for over 15 min. Throwing his head back into my chest, pinching my arms, trying to bite me, etc.

 

I've tried to make sure he's well rested, not hungry, sufficiently entertained (outside time included). The littlest things spawn these tantrums. For instance, the other day he wanted on my lap. I was working, so I calmly told him that mommy was working, but he was welcome to sit next to me and tried to pull him in close. He screamed "NO!" at me and proceeded to fight to get on my lap. When I, again, told him that he could not sit on my lap right then, but that he could sit next to me and watch a show he began the physical violence.

 

Please help me tame my toddler!!!

 

Thank you!

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It sounds like you are doing everything you can. My son has a short fuse and I have tried everything you have tried - but I have stopped empathizing/cuddling when he gets mad because it seems to validate his outburst. I'm working on using a quiet, calm, low voice and stating the consequence without showing any anger, and it seems to help. We talk when he is good about the consequences for yelling and hitting, so he knows what to expect if he does either.

 

Since he is so volatile, I would look at reasons for his anger. It does sound over-the-top. Have you ever tried an elimination diet? Some kids get angry when their body reacts to certain foods.

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When my daughter acted like that as a tot, it always meant she felt insecure. I would correct the bad behavior but then give her a time of extra closeness, e.g., carrying her for a while even though that was not "necessary." Mostly it was something we just had to get through. Now that she can express herself a lot better, we are able to pinpoint the sources of insecurity and deal with them.

 

But I agree with the possibility of food triggers.

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It sounds like you are doing everything you can. My son has a short fuse and I have tried everything you have tried - but I have stopped empathizing/cuddling when he gets mad because it seems to validate his outburst. I'm working on using a quiet, calm, low voice and stating the consequence without showing any anger, and it seems to help. We talk when he is good about the consequences for yelling and hitting, so he knows what to expect if he does either.

 

Since he is so volatile, I would look at reasons for his anger. It does sound over-the-top. Have you ever tried an elimination diet? Some kids get angry when their body reacts to certain foods.

 

:iagree: to the bolded. My son is completely unreasonable if he has refined sugar. No exceptions. It is a pain in the neck, but has it ever made a difference to our lives now that we keep his diet sugar free.

 

He's now 6yo - my Tigger - still bouncy, but so much more able to control himself. The key for us came when he got old enough for me to ask him why he would keep doing something (multiple times a day) that he knew he shouldn't do, and he had that desperate look and he just said, "I don't know! I can't stop myself!" And I immediately thought, that's not normal. I know him, and he's not without a conscience and an understanding of right and wrong. We have an inherited sugar intolerance in the family, so that was the first thing I tried and I guess we just struck lucky.

 

I hope you find your son's "key". Sugar is a fairly obvious one, also consider food colours and additives, and caffeine (unlikely in a 2yo, I know..).

 

The other thing my son needs, on a daily basis, is time outside. Rain or shine, hot or cold, he goes out, wrapped up as appropriate. If it's so cold that he can't stay out for long, then he will go out several times. The only thing that's ever worn him out was his week long ice hockey school - 7:30am to 7pm, skating for at least half that time - the coaches were astonished at the fact that he never took a break!

 

HTH!

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The best thing you can do is learn how to restrain him without getting yourself hurt. Sometimes that deep pressure of restraint (not in an angry way) helps kids to calm down.

 

I have to run to counseling with the kids. Let me know if you're interested in details.

 

Definitely interested as that was what I was attempting to do yesterday.

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Then I would try removing dairy. Even give it a week. I know this is anecdotal, but a friend of mine figured out that milk was her dd's trigger after a long road of unmanageable behavior. After she was off dairy for a while, she drank milk out of her sister's cup and started right back with crazy behavior (painting the walls with her poop!).

 

If dairy (or something else) is the cause, it is worth changing your meals!

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My son (now 7) was like that. I wish we had realized earlier the physical triggers to his behavior. He has multiple life-threatening allergies, and we were vigilant about those - but we did not realize the extent of his other, less threatening intolerances and environmental allergies. Nor did we realize that seemingly benign allergy meds could cause those types of outbursts.

 

An elimination diet is a very good place to start. If you can't afford radical changes to his diet, then start small, with your best guesses as to the culprits - but know it might take longer to find the answer. For us, gluten makes a big difference in behavior.

 

Is he on medication? Singulair causes outbursts like this in some kids. My kiddo was on Singulair for years, and had we known that it was contributing, he would have been off in a heartbeat. (He is off now, and those outbursts are over, thankfully.) Zyrtec has similar effects, apparently. If he's on anything at all, even OTC, do some homework.

 

A few other thoughts - my son has asthma, and when it is under control we are fine. But his first signs of an asthma attack are not wheezing... Rather irritability and an irrational anger that can lead to lashing out. This is allergy-related, too, as it is exposure to his environmental allergens that leads to his asthma attacks. Without the wheezing, it took us a while to recognize that he had asthma. Fortunately, not too long, because he has a good allergist who knew the right questions to ask. By the way, his pediatrician has asthma, and says that she has a panicky feeling as her first asthma symptom, so she thinks the irritability is normal. Might be worth thinking about that, too.

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A swift pop to the bottom is a very easy solution to try before you try an elimination diet. It sounds like to me that he is asking for clear guidance on his behavior and is being rewarded for bad behavior. You snuggle him or hold him or try to love him through the tantrum, when really a clear signal of "no" is being asked for. Pop his bottom. I absolutely do not endorse beating or excessive spanking, but one or two quick swats on the bottom is very effective.

 

When my children were little, we would have issues for about three days, where I would consistently be on top of every issue. If they set about trying to challenge my authority like your son is doing to you, they would quickly get a swat on the bottom every single time. Within a few days, my authority was no longer being challenged and we had a wonderful, harmonious relationship again that we could all enjoy. He is asking for you to establish your authority, in my opinion.

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How much mom time does he get, 1:1?

 

I guess it varies on the day. On Tue/Thur mornings it is just he and I. I usually try to take him to do something or take that time to play with him on the floor, etc.

 

You mentioned communication. Do you do any sign with him? I had a late talker and sign helped us so much. We just watched signing time together and learned enough that we could communicate more. It helped a ton.

 

:grouphug:

 

We did a TON of signing with him over the last 1.5yr. He is/was a late talker, but has come a LONG ways with speech therapy. He still uses a few signs for words he doesn't yet say. Maybe I should try teaching him the signs for "mad"?!?

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A swift pop to the bottom is a very easy solution to try before you try an elimination diet. It sounds like to me that he is asking for clear guidance on his behavior and is being rewarded for bad behavior. You snuggle him or hold him or try to love him through the tantrum, when really a clear signal of "no" is being asked for. Pop his bottom. I absolutely do not endorse beating or excessive spanking, but one or two quick swats on the bottom is very effective.

 

When my children were little, we would have issues for about three days, where I would consistently be on top of every issue. If they set about trying to challenge my authority like your son is doing to you, they would quickly get a swat on the bottom every single time. Within a few days, my authority was no longer being challenged and we had a wonderful, harmonious relationship again that we could all enjoy. He is asking for you to establish your authority, in my opinion.

 

Tried that too. Sigh. He just turns around and hits me back.

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:grouphug: I had the same issues with my son when he was little. Turns out he has sensory integration dysfunction, anxiety, ADHD, and Asperger's. He is still not great at emotional regulation; he reacts strongly to things and becomes easily overwhelmed. Also he has difficulty with expressive language.

 

I'd look into sensory integration; if you read about it and think your son has issues, an OT can be very helpful. Even if you don't go to an OT, a sensory diet can be very helpful. If he does have sensory issues, also, you may find (as we did) that spanking is ineffective and even makes things worse.

 

I remember "Raising Your Spirited Child" was helpful, as well as "The Out-of-Sync Child".

 

Feel free to PM me for support, encouragement, or just a listening ear. I've been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

 

Wendi

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Definitely try eliminating dairy. Food colorings, HFCS, wheat, and even types of fruits. We eat Gala, Fuji, or Cameo apples because red delicious apples make my adhd kids nuts! Bananas, red grapes and tomatoes have also been culprits. You can start w/ dairy, because he already has stomach issues. Try making a chart of what he eats every day and see if you can see a correlation. Also, the fact that he is 2 and he has you all to himself two days a week, could mean he is missing that on the days you aren't alone, and is being greedy for mom's time. :grouphug:

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What about a quiet 'calm-down' space? Is there anywhere you can put him (more contained than time out) so he can't hurt you/himself/property when he starts acting out. Maybe removing yourself and other stimuli will help to calm him, stop the escalation cycle?

I did that consistently with my children (though they were never that violent :grouphug: ) saying something like 'I understand you're mad/upset/whatever, but we do not behave like that. If you are going to act like that you can do it by yourself in x-room' then I'd add, 'when you are ready to act nicely and speak to me properly then you can come out and I can help you'

I really found giving them some quiet space to calm down plus the discipline worked with my kids...

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Tried that too. Sigh. He just turns around and hits me back.

 

It can go either way. FYI, I am not in the camp of "spanking is abuse", but if you've tried this consistently and reasonably, and it had no effect, then it's not working for this issue at this time.

 

I'm not sure that I would assume it was a discipline issue BEFORE you try adjusting his diet. Supposing it is a diet issue - how is it going to help if you discipline him for it, if it's something he can't control until you assist him with diet changes?

 

Also - something I mentioned before - how much exercise/fresh air does he get?

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Consider spending an hour 1:1 with him each a.m., doing as much conversing and communicating as you can. He's in that age/stage where his brain needs it.

 

I can make a better effort....see what I can sneak in on the rest of the days (our schedule is crazy). He does have preschool on M/W mornings too.

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To the OP... Pops on the bottom didn't work for my kiddo either. There was simply more at work than misbehavior.

 

Thanks. I've actually had this book on my to-read list for a while but I didn't realize it contained an elimination diet. Maybe I should bump it to the top of my list.

 

If you read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts and share experiences. We've been working through it for about a year now, at our family doc's suggestion. Haven't tried everything recommended, but a lot of it. We've seen interesting results from glutathione IVs, in particular, during high allergen seasons. That something I never thought we'd try! Interesting experience, to say the least.

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I don't have any experience in terms of diet affecting a child's behavior (I haven't tried eliminating foods from my kids diet) so I can't add to that.

 

My ds is 2 and has been more challenging than my girls in terms of throwing stubborn fits. Like your son, my son's tantrums can start over the smallest things. When he gets unreasonable (when nothing pleases him) and he's unwilling to be comforted (I always offer to hold him and I stay calm in the face of his fits), I pick him up, put him in our bedroom (by himself), tell him calmly that he needs to settle down (before I leave the room), and wait for his tantrum to wind down. Once I hear the intensity of his tantrum lessening, I open the door and ask if he's ready to come out and "be nice". Once he's calmed down, I hold and snuggle him for 5-10 minutes until he's ready to start playing again. I don't know if it's the best approach, but it's one that I can handle. Otherwise, I feel frustrated and overwhelmed by his tantrums and he will wear down my patience.

 

Even though ds still throws tantrums, it seems to be getting better (less severe and less frequent) as the weeks/months pass so I hope this is just a phase he's going through. I hope you're able to find a solution that you're happy with. Sorry if this isn't too helpful...:grouphug:.

 

ETA: Pops on the bottom don't affect my son either. Also, he usually spends 5-10 minutes in the room by himself before he's ready to calm down but a couple of times he's been in there closer to half an hour.

Edited by sgo95
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If you read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts and share experiences. We've been working through it for about a year now, at our family doc's suggestion. Haven't tried everything recommended, but a lot of it. We've seen interesting results from glutathione IVs, in particular, during high allergen seasons. That something I never thought we'd try! Interesting experience, to say the least.

 

I definitely plan to read it, but it may have to wait until my next payday.

 

 

The other day (and I am still waiting on it to arrive), I ordered What's Eating Your Child? by Kelly Dorfman. Now I see it's on sale on Amazon for half the price I paid. :glare: I am *very* anxious for it to get here.

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my son had terrible fits as a toddler. oh my gosh...exhausting. he wasn't violent physically toward me (at least not in the sense that you mentioned), but he would bang his head on the floor, hit himself, and yell at me. sometimes, the best thing to do was to let him get it out of his system, ykwim? if i tried to calm him down, i was really just exasperating him. i would sometimes sit near him, but i wouldn't talk at all. when it was over, we would hug.

 

honestly, what has helped the most with my son was time. we've spent a lot of time teaching him to work through his anger, frustration, and emotions (when he's calm) and now at age 7 he's actually enjoyable, lol. what works here for us *now* is diet, rest, warnings, consequences, exercise, a schedule, no internet, limited TV, and "attentive child" supplement have been great for him. he needs all of the above to function well.:grouphug:

 

for my son though i truly felt the issue was something outside of the "normal" realm though. i knew the battle wasn't between him & us, but really, the battle was within himself. he was literally a ball of rage when he was upset & we had to dig a little deeper to find out why. ykwim?

Edited by mytwomonkeys
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Boys have a tougher time with emotional regulation in general. Some boys are way off at one end of the spectrum. My son was a screamer from the time he was born. He wasn't raised any differently than the girls, but he would become enraged at the slightest provocation. Things needed to be right with his world. If I cut his grilled cheese the wrong way he would melt down with distress because suddenly it wasn't the *right* grilled cheese anymore. 2 and 3 going into the first part of 4 were really, really tough years. Montessori helped immensely because of the regulatory aspect and the consistent routine that provided him with comfort. I used to talk about feeling words with him constantly, not just mad (which is what tantrums look like), but frustrated, sad, disappointed, worried, anxious, jealous, upset. I knew I was on to something when he was five and in the middle of time out he was screaming Mommy! at me. I went back in to tell him I would restart the clock if he didn't hush. He told me, "But I feel sorry that I was mean and I'm lonely and upset and really, really really sad!!!" Then he burst into tears. Honestly, I think he was trying to say the same sorts of things with his rage at age 2, but he just didn't have the vocabulary yet.

 

Elimination diets did nothing for us, but fish oil helped immensely. Be sure he gets plenty of DHA. I also took the handle off of his side of his bedroom door. When he became violent, I would carry him up there and tell him he was going to hurt someone and it was time to play quietly by himself. He would scream and tantrum and at one point kicked a hole in the wall behind the door, but within a few minutes he was usually sobbing and ready to be held and talked down from his ledge.

 

There are royalty tantrums (look for the lack of tears) when a child feels entitled to something he or she doesn't have. Those are brat tantrums. But if a child is screaming and thrashing and obviously not in control of himself, if he is choking on his tears, the last thing he needs is a pop in the butt. Really. He wants to be saved from himself.

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Food allergies, particularly dairy, can *absolutely* create the behavior you are talking about. Dairy allergy can cause sleep, rage, aggression and impulse control issues.

 

The other thought I had, already mentioned in this thread, is that he is sensory-seeking and has some level of sensory issues/disintegration. In this case, children do not process sensation in a standard way. They are under-sensitive to touch (though elements of being over sensitive can co-exist). Since he doesn't process "touch" in a standard way, his body seeks and craves sensation. Combine that with immaturity and frustration, and he will head bang, head butt, etc.

 

Sensory seekers often are "weird" when it comes to issues of affection and personal space, and moms have to use counter-instinctual answers such as *limiting* affection. (I will not debate that, btw. It is reality for sensory seekers, they are not lacking attention, they need help and coaching on boundaries and appropriateness).

 

OT (occupational therapy) is great for sensory issues, and if professional help isn't available (or in my case 13 years ago, your spouse won't let you), you can do a lot at home to help.

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my son had terrible fits as a toddler. oh my gosh...exhausting. he wasn't violent physically toward me (at least not in the sense that you mentioned), but he would bang his head on the floor, hit himself, and yell at me. sometimes, the best thing to do was to let him get it out of his system, ykwim? if i tried to calm him down, i was really just exasperating him. i would sometimes sit near him, but i wouldn't talk at all. when it was over, we would hug.

 

honestly, what has helped the most with my son was time. we've spent a lot of time teaching him to work through his anger, frustration, and emotions (when he's calm) and now at age 7 he's actually enjoyable, lol. what works here for us *now* is diet, rest, warnings, consequences, a schedule, no internet, limited TV, and "attentive child" supplement have been great for him. he needs all of the above to function well.:grouphug:

 

for my son though i truly felt the issue was something outside of the "normal" realm though. i knew the battle wasn't between him & us, but really, the battle was within himself. he was literally a ball of rage when he was upset & we had to dig a little deeper to find out why. ykwim?

 

:iagree: Oh my gosh, yes. I agree with every word of this post. With the reasons why it happens and with the techniques for handling it.

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Sensory seekers often are "weird" when it comes to issues of affection and personal space, and moms have to use counter-instinctual answers such as *limiting* affection. (I will not debate that, btw. It is reality for sensory seekers, they are not lacking attention, they need help and coaching on boundaries and appropriateness).

 

Not to derail the thread, so feel free to PM me, but Joanne, can you point me to resources, internet or otherwise, about this point? I've thought for some time that my son has some sensory-seeking issues and that the standard advice of "fill up his attention cup," etc. seems to backfire.

 

For the OP, I have very little actual advice in dealing with this situation--I had some of what you describe, though perhaps not to the same extent--but the one thing I wish I had understood better was not to take it personally. I experienced a lot of rage and resentment during that time period and it would have been easier for everyone if I had, urm, rolled with the punches more. It sounds as if you've got that angle well in hand, but since it's the only wise thing I have to say on the issue I thought I'd offer it up. :001_smile:

 

Oh, and it did get better--I think maybe somewhere between three and four for my son.

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Food allergies, particularly dairy, can *absolutely* create the behavior you are talking about. Dairy allergy can cause sleep, rage, aggression and impulse control issues.

 

The other thought I had, already mentioned in this thread, is that he is sensory-seeking and has some level of sensory issues/disintegration. In this case, children do not process sensation in a standard way. They are under-sensitive to touch (though elements of being over sensitive can co-exist). Since he doesn't process "touch" in a standard way, his body seeks and craves sensation. Combine that with immaturity and frustration, and he will head bang, head butt, etc.

 

Sensory seekers often are "weird" when it comes to issues of affection and personal space, and moms have to use counter-instinctual answers such as *limiting* affection. (I will not debate that, btw. It is reality for sensory seekers, they are not lacking attention, they need help and coaching on boundaries and appropriateness).

 

OT (occupational therapy) is great for sensory issues, and if professional help isn't available (or in my case 13 years ago, your spouse won't let you), you can do a lot at home to help.

 

I have to second the sensory angle. This was my son. He was not so much violent, but had raging tantrums over the smallest things. He was a sensory avoider, not a seeker. The whole world was overwhelming and he would just melt down when he just couldn't hold it together anymore. We had trouble getting in to see an OT, plus he needed multiple types of therapy so we ended up going the neurodevelopmental route and had great success. A couple of books for the meantime is The Out-of-Sync Child and The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun. Your library may have them or you may be able to buy them used from someone who no longer needs them.

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Kristin, sorry I haven't kept up with all your threads to know if you've said this or not, but have you had him evaluated yet for speech? And ditto doing something about the known digestion problems. One EASY place to start is enzymes. Houston Enzymes sells them and it's what our SLP recommends.

 

You might also read The Gut Psychology Syndrome book, because it explains why poor milk digestion (not allergy but digestion) causes these witch-child symptoms.

 

PS. Music doesn't particularly help, but there's an herbal tincture called Calm Child that sure does. Check your health food store.

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The food thing fascinates me.....I'm just not sure I trust myself to implement those kind of changes and I worry about the cost. We tried completely dairy free once....it was SO, SO, SO hard. I gave up, admittedly, probably too soon. We just limit it as much as possible now. Interestingly, soy appears to cause similar symptoms.

 

About speech....he has been in speech therapy since March. In that time he has gone from a 9-12 month deficit to being "within normal limits" - though I'm not sure where he falls on the spectrum. He is still receiving services and will continue to do so for awhile. He has a speech therapist as well as an educational/developmental therapist (because he was a little behind in a few educational/developmental areas too at the time of testing).

 

I'm going to go read about sensory issues right now. I'm very curious. If I find that the descriptions "fit" him, where would I start with getting evaluations/therapy?

 

Thank you all so much for the insight. I really do just feel so overwhelmed with it all.

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The food thing fascinates me.....I'm just not sure I trust myself to implement those kind of changes and I worry about the cost. We tried completely dairy free once....it was SO, SO, SO hard. I gave up, admittedly, probably too soon. We just limit it as much as possible now. Interestingly, soy appears to cause similar symptoms.

 

About speech....he has been in speech therapy since March. In that time he has gone from a 9-12 month deficit to being "within normal limits" - though I'm not sure where he falls on the spectrum. He is still receiving services and will continue to do so for awhile. He has a speech therapist as well as an educational/developmental therapist (because he was a little behind in a few educational/developmental areas too at the time of testing).

 

I'm going to go read about sensory issues right now. I'm very curious. If I find that the descriptions "fit" him, where would I start with getting evaluations/therapy?

 

Thank you all so much for the insight. I really do just feel so overwhelmed with it all.

 

For the sensory follow up, start with your general Dr., a checklist of matching behaviors, and ask for a referral.

 

On the dietary, dairy, soy, and corn are 3 of the top allergies. Here's the deal, and it's not easy. Dairy sensitivity is real, pervasive, and can be intense. Cutting back or cutting down is often not enough. If your child is sensitive to certain foods, you need to be diligent. Look at it this way, you'll either be spending time on his diet or his behavior. ;)

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How long does it generally take to notice a difference in behavior with dietary changes? Say, if you cut out dairy, how long should you wait before deciding, "Ok, it's not dairy, we can drink milk again" and go on to the next thing?

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Okay, I went here and found that he has a few symptoms scattered throughout other categories, but the ones I identified the most with were all in the sub-categories under Social, Emotional, Play, And Self-Regulation Dysfunction (3 under social, 5 under emotional, 2 under play, 0 under self-regulation, 2 under internal regulation).

 

I do know that we haven't cut out enough dairy, because while the tummy pains seem to no longer affect DS, he still has diarrhea or loose stools daily. I don't believe he has ever had a solid poop....ever. It, obviously, gets worse (becomes green & watery) with increased dairy.

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The OT I was using for dd (who at the time was 11) didn't want to fiddle with ds who was 2 at the time, even though he had, what seemed to me, clear signs of being low tone, etc. There's a certain amount that's hard to diagnose when they're young. You can guess, based on siblings, but some of the things are still normal for that age. If it's EI that did the rest of your services, they should have screened for OT as well. Books like "The Out of Sync Child" will get you started. I'm just saying I got the blow-off even when it was OBVIOUS we're headed that way.

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Go to that Houston Enzymes website I mentioned. Not the same as changing your diet, but it can help get over a hump when you *want* to eat those things and know it's just *digestion* that's the problem. They have a powder form. Doesn't taste the greatest, but it works.

 

And yes, that self-regulation thing is what you're running into. They can't self-regulate up or down. We went through a LOT of calm child (that herbal tincture) with dd. :(

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I'm sitting here and thinking of several sensory type situations that I found odd about DS, but just kind blew off:

 

1. He used to HATE, HATE, HATE rain on his skin, though this seems to have passed for the most part (still seems to make him a bit uncomfortable)

 

2. He has cried and fought diaper changes since he was about 7 months old. To this day, when he sees me pull out a diaper he screams "no!" and runs - this often ends in kicking, hitting, and a full on tantrum etc....

 

3. DS used to be petrified of "loud" noises - even trains way off in the distance or airplanes you could just barely hear. He would panic and bury himself in me. This, too, seems to have lessened a lot as he's gotten older.

 

4. DS is a very picky eater (but aren't most 2yr olds??)

 

I thought there were more......I'll post when I remember, lol.

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Okay, I went here and found that he has a few symptoms scattered throughout other categories, but the ones I identified the most with were all in the sub-categories under Social, Emotional, Play, And Self-Regulation Dysfunction (3 under social, 5 under emotional, 2 under play, 0 under self-regulation, 2 under internal regulation).

 

I do know that we haven't cut out enough dairy, because while the tummy pains seem to no longer affect DS, he still has diarrhea or loose stools daily. I don't believe he has ever had a solid poop....ever. It, obviously, gets worse (becomes green & watery) with increased dairy.

 

As someone who has struggled a lot with health this really worries me. The thing is, if he is sensitive to dairy, it really does hurt him to have it. It's not just the tummy pain, it's what it is doing to him inside and the fact that he is not absorbing nutrients adequately if it is all coming out in diarrhea and loose stools. I'm not saying this to make you feel bad but with the hope that you will take this seriously for his sake. He can't monitor his own food. I know that it is expensive to have dairy alternatives but you can have non dairy foods (eggs or toast for breakfast or rice and beans for dinner, for example) that are still inexpensive. I know that I'd help to give you ideas if you decided to go that route.

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We have two girls with a very restrictive diet. I really understand your comment about not being able to afford the elimination diet, but at some point, you may feel that there's no way you can afford NOT to do it. Even the most trace amounts of problematic foods have a very dramatic effect on both girls.

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if you eliminate dairy, you could supplement with rice milk (i see that soy doesn't work well with your little guy). rice milk is dirt cheap to make & supplements easily for cooking, etc. it taste great too, especially with a few dates and a hint of vanilla:) it has no nutritional value though - so i wouldn't drink a lot of it or anything. you can just make it in a blender and strain it with a nut milk bag. anyway. just wanted to mention that.

 

ETA - almond milk is a great choice too! you can make that easily as well (not as cheap as rice milk) or you can buy it. really yummy!

Edited by mytwomonkeys
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If I were you, I would start now on the dairy free and start keeping a journal in which you list all of your son's "off" behaviours. Call your pediatrician and make an appt. for next week. By then, you should have a week's worth of behaviour in your journal to present to your dr. so that he can get a realistic idea of your son's issues. Then, he'll be able to help you further with any kind of diagnosis so that you can know how to better help your son. It sounds like he's definitely dealing with something more than just a behaviour problem. The behaviour seems to be the symptom-not the actual issue that needs addressing, though you will probably need to deal with that more once you get to the heart of the matter.

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Thank you so much everyone!! I really, REALLY appreciate all the insight and information. It's comforting to know that maybe this IS something more than just difficult toddler behavior.

 

I talked to DH last night. He felt that "we have no choice" but to try dairy free.....again. We can't afford our regular groceries. I have no idea how we're going to afford all the "special" stuff for him. Snacks, etc.

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You may not need special snacks if you are able to prepare your own foor. I found most processed food had dairy in it so ignore it. Fruit and veg are dairy free so could he have these as snacks? With my boys the physical change was immediate so perhaps you won't have to wait too long to see if it is having an effect.

Stephanie

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Kristin, I'm not sure what you're used to eating, but for snacks for a 2 yo, you're usually looking at something like a banana or a sliced apple. Think simple, whole foods. Then you know exactly what's in it.

 

On the rest of what you're describing, he's probably going to turn out needing OT. Go ahead and read books like "The Out of Sync Child." My dd did that with the screaming at diaper changes, sigh. My ds did for a while, and it turns out the diaper wipes were painful to him. We switched to the walmart brand sensitive (NOT aloe, NOT the ones that say like Pampers sensitive), and he stopped. I don't know what caused the screaming with my dd. It was sure frustrating at the time though. The wipes though would be an easy change. You could even just try a rag and water and see if that helps. Or maybe you've already done that.

 

Milk is actually shockingly expensive. Or maybe you have your own cows? I think people use milk and cheese for protein because it's what they're used to, not because it's cheaper. Almond butter is moderately expensive, but it lasts a long time when you just eat it on celery sticks. My ds eats a lot of eggs. They're high in fat, have lots of choline (good for speech!!), and are CHEAP. Beans are cheap, and there's no law saying they have to have cheese. My boy also LOVES hummus. The tahini you put in is a little expensive, but again it makes a LOT for the money. We eat it on rice cakes, veges, etc. I'm always looking for ways to get good fats into him to help his speech.

 

http://www.childrensdisabilities.info/allergies/developmentaldisordersprotein7.html Here's an article similar to what that Gut Psychyology Syndrome book discusses (just in case you can't get Gut Psychology at the library). The poor milk digestion results in byproduct chemicals that go into the brain, cause the witch symptoms AND a whole bunch of other things along the way. The most horrifying thing to me was to realize that these bad chemicals are causing dyspraxia, ADD, etc. too. In other words, is there long-term harm from letting them eat this stuff that they can't digest? I just know I was horrified.

 

If you email Dr. Houston of Houston enzymes, he'll send you a sizable trial packet of whatever he thinks will work for you. In our case we focused just on the protein, but you might like to have him send you a trial packet of the protein and the tri-enza (has enzymes for both protein and starches). That way you could determine if you need just one type of enzyme or more. You could email and talk it through with him. He also has extensive information on his website about what each of the enzyme products do, which will firm loose stools, etc. Anyways, that packet had, wowsers, probably 20+ capsules, meaning it was enough to let all 3 of us try it many times for several weeks and decide if it really helped us. In your case, that free trial might be invaluable. Just a thought. You just pour the capsule into his mouth and have him swig juice or water afterward.

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We are egg, peanut, most tree nut, and dairy free here (well, one child is completely dairy free, one is mostly, the rest can have it). We are also seriously contemplating giving up wheat and/or gluten and nightshades to see if it helps my dd's alopecia and my ds's rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Two things really helped when we were starting out. Writing down everything we COULD have. It was always more than it seemed. Then planning meals and snacks from that, and sticking to a rotation of those meals. It may seem "boring" at first but the kids love having the same things all the time and the adults got used to it. :) Trying to "substitute" for things we liked (i.e. a special dairy free pizza instead of cheese pizza) just doesn't fly well on a limited budget, we had to find other things we liked.

 

The other thing was shopping ALONE. You need, at least at first, to read labels and THINK. Bring tissues if you are the emotional type (I'm not kidding). You can do this.

 

Feel free to PM me if you want to bounce ideas around about meals, etc. My heat aches for you because I've BTDT with the meals and behavior.

 

ETA: keeping a food/behavior diary may be helpful. By writing down everything my dd ate, and how she behaved emotionally and physically in detail by time of day, I was able to see patterns and eliminate certain foods. Red food dye gave a relatively immediate reaction, it was 24 hours later almost to the minute that dd would have a huge breakdown/tantrum from dairy. Strange but true.

Edited by amyable
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