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Ktgrok

super emotional little boy

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My DS5 has always been quick to tears. As a toddler he didn't scream and kick and throw tantrums, he cried. He still cries. A LOT. Like, many times a day. Over any frustration. 

Today he has cried because the dog was too close to him

Because I put him in time out for hitting the dog (actually, time out was just me taking away his tablet for a bit)

Because he couldn't figure out part of a game instantly

Because I found baby pictures of his and he doesn't want people to see him when he was a baby

 

That was between 8am and 11:30am

 

Not all days are this bad, today is definitely worse than usual. But seriously, what do I do about this? Or do I just accept it is who he is and work with it?

 

He can be very very sweet, cuddly, etc. But the crying thing....it's crazy. 

 

I do think right now one factor in why it is worse may be allergies. It's the start of pollen season in Florida and we all have issues every feb-april. Unfortunately antihistamines make him even grouchier. I'll probably start them on daily Flonase now, and continue until the pollen lets up which may help. He's also a bit tired due to staying up a bit late to watch the olympics. 

 

But this happens even without those factors, to a degree. 

 

Any thoughts??

 

Edited to add: I am fairly sure this kid is the brightest of the bunch, intellectually. And the oldest tested well into the gifted range, so I expect this one would be even higher. My own IQ was in the genius level when tested forever and ever ago, not sure how accurate testing was back in the dark ages of the early 80s. So I'm a thinking part of this is the sensitivity that some gifted kids tend to show (in my experience). Also, oldest was diagnosed with Aspergers although this kid is nothing at all like his big brother, polar opposites. 

Edited by ktgrok

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Following, as I have one of these too!! It’s hard. I struggle with when to try to encourage a different response and when to let tears be ok.

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anxiety?

 

he could be sensitive to foods, he could be not processing something correctly.

 

he may need a lot more sleep than anyone realizes.  under direction from dudeling's ND, I started him on melatonin when he was 5/6? - he slept two more hours a night.   this kid could would rather starve than eat anything he knew I had sprinkled (he couldn' taste it) nutritional powder on. I made him a "godfather" offer to get him to take the melatonin.  he could swallow it - or we'd give it to him in a shot.  the next day - he ASKED for it.  if I ever forgot to give it to him - he'd ASK for it.  it made such a huge difference in how he felt, that my oppositional kid - wanted it.

 

he was always fussy - and yes, he would have major meltdowns if someone took his picture.   he'd also lie about his name when someone asked - because it was "personal".

 

anyway - those two more hours a night were one of the things that made a big difference for him.  (helped my sanity too.)

 

eta: clarity.

Edited by gardenmom5

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I think sometimes bright, precocious kids can be very sensitive because they perceive so much, and it's all coming at them, and they imagine so much.  

 

They don't yet have the capacity or experience to put it in perspective or weed out what they can't handle.

 

My inclination would be to think about how to keep his day kind of calm, but also teaching coping skills with some care.  And talk though problems.

 

My son can be a bit like this, but part of his trouble is he doesn't easily articulate what is bothering him.  A few times though I've found that later, he remembers things I've said to try and help him, even when I thought he wasn't listening at all.  I also find that it helps to make opportunities for us to be alone so he can bring up things that are bothering him. 

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I have a similar 5 year old. I’d say in the past year he has gotten much better, especially at home, but he will still have breakdowns.

 

His are definitely related to hunger (blood sugar) and being tired although it is not just those two reasons. He is also a perfectionist but doesn’t have the fine motor skills to be one. He has thought from the time he was tiny that he should be able to do everything his older siblings are capable of, despite being younger. I also tend to be an emotional person, so I’m sure just a bit of that is genetics.

 

When he is upset I coach him to take deep breaths to help him calm down. If it’s near mealtime, I’ll get some food in him. If I think he’s tired I’ll offer his the chance to rest. When he was crying because he didn’t want to stand next to a certain girl in the Sunday school picture I wasn’t there, but afterward we talked about how he could have handled the situation differently.

 

He has had a lot of trouble with sport type activities so we took a break from him doing any for awhile.

 

I don’t know if any of that will help you, but I sympathize with you because it’s hard not to go crazy when you have a kid crying all the time.

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Oh, I definitely have one of those. His emotional maturity is nowhere near his intellectual capacity (more verbal than figural) but it is what it is. I wish I could say it gets better and he’s easier to work with but every day is 50/50, great success or disaster.

 

DS intensely disliked most people as a baby/toddler and clung to his immediate family which only increased my burden. He wouldn’t give anyone the time of day, blank looks, etc. DS still talks to strangers as if everyday is Opposite Day because they’re not entitled to his thoughts. He (also) takes melatonin to help shut his brain off at night. He still cannot handle frustration effectively and gets very anxious about new situations (ugh, I have a pic of him on his first day if pre-K that is so sad/pathetic).

 

So...following. Maybe someone else has some tips. Time and talk therapy has helped *some* but it’s still a tough thing.

Edited by Sneezyone

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Reading your post, before I finished, my first thought was “allergies?†... and then I read that there are environmental allergies possible.

 

My super sensitive emotional boy had (has) severe allergies. When that allergy cup is full, he’s a mess. As a young boy, he sounded like yours.

 

Some allergy meds made it significantly worse. He can’t take singulair, Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra.

 

Complicating all this - asthma triggered by the allergies. He has the type with no wheezing, so we had no idea until he was old enough to articulate, “I can’t breathe.†Asthma can trigger a fight or flight response, and anxiety, tears.

 

My kiddo had this all the time, but it would increase in severity during allergy season.

 

We also have the gifted issue (Living with Intensity was a helpful book), and food allergies. Red dye does something to him neurologically, according to his allergist. Cutting that out was a huge help.

 

Good luck. Lots of your understanding and cuddles while you work through it will help. It’s hard on everyone. Especially Mama.

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Reading your post, before I finished, my first thought was “allergies?†... and then I read that there are environmental allergies possible.

 

My super sensitive emotional boy had (has) severe allergies. When that allergy cup is full, he’s a mess. As a young boy, he sounded like yours.

 

Some allergy meds made it significantly worse. He can’t take singulair, Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra.

 

Complicating all this - asthma triggered by the allergies. He has the type with no wheezing, so we had no idea until he was old enough to articulate, “I can’t breathe.†Asthma can trigger a fight or flight response, and anxiety, tears.

 

My kiddo had this all the time, but it would increase in severity during allergy season.

 

We also have the gifted issue (Living with Intensity was a helpful book), and food allergies. Red dye does something to him neurologically, according to his allergist. Cutting that out was a huge help.

 

Good luck. Lots of your understanding and cuddles while you work through it will help. It’s hard on everyone. Especially Mama.

 

Yes to all of this. Have you found an allergy med he CAN take? My DD is even worse...she's a basket case on say, Zyrtec, but he seems to react as well. And yes, food is also an issue. 

 

He doesn't seem anxious, just easily frustrated. 

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Oh, and board games are a NIGHTMARE with him. He cries so hard if he loses! Connect four is fast enough that he can win a few so not as bad, but ugh. And no, cooperative games are not better, then he cries too, because he still wants to win. 

 

That's why it seems like frustration intolerance rather than anxiety. He can sometimes be a bit shy with new kids for a few minutes, wanting me to introduce him rathe than running over, but he plays easily with kids of all ages, friends and strangers. He goes to sunday school with no issues, etc. 

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This reminded me of my niece. She has always been a huge cryer. On the flip side she is also one of the most thoughtful and compassionate little people that I know. I think her intense feelings cause both her crying and compassion.

 

When my own Dd was going through an emotional phase I bought the book Pete the Cat. We'd read it often and talk about how Pete dealt with his setbacks. I'd ask her how she'd feel and respond if she were Pete and I told her what I'd probably do. Then we imagined how daddy might resopnd. We compared, contrasted, and explored. For her that was all she needed. A highly sensitive personality will probably need more.

 

Is it feasible for you to treat emotional intelligence like a school subject? Approaching emotions academically is a safe and non shaming way to grow in this area. It can help littles wrap their minds around the idea that there is choice involved in feelings and reactions and that there are different ways to handle the same situation.

Edited by Learning fun
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Yes to all of this. Have you found an allergy med he CAN take? My DD is even worse...she's a basket case on say, Zyrtec, but he seems to react as well. And yes, food is also an issue.

 

He doesn't seem anxious, just easily frustrated.

He finally improved drastically when we switched allergists.

 

He does Nasonex (Rx nasal spray), Q-Var and Advair. It’s a weird combo but the only one that’s worked. She also found out he’s allergic to wheat and dairy - gettin off those helped, too, probably. Inflammation and all that.

 

We really want a daily antihistamine but can’t find one he can tolerate.

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A very long time ago, I got advice on these boards that helped my super intense, super emotional kids. I think it had a name but I've forgotten it. 

 

Basically, you begin by having a discussion about possible situations and responses, and how you should try to match your response to the situation. Lots of silly talk to get their attention (role playing a house-is-on-fire reaction to a ball-rolled-in-the-street stimulus), and lots of talk about what different reactions might look like. You are having this discussion at a completely calm time when nothing is going on, not in response to an actual situation. 

 

Then you advise them (ongoing) on how their responses are matching the situation or not. 

 

"I know you're sad that mom went to the store, but you're responding like it's level 7 when it's really level 3, because she will be home in twenty minutes." 

 

"You're really mad because your cousin took your toy, but that is still only about a level 4. The toy isn't ruined - that might make it a level 6 or 7, but I was right here and got the toy back for you to play with. Instead of crying, what other reaction could you have?" and then talking about other reactions like tell and adult, ask for the toy back, and so on. 

 

 You talk in advance about trigger situations. Losing games can be a really fun one to role play an over reaction to (remember, you are doing this at a completely separate time, not when he is actually reacting). Once he gets the gist of levels, ask HIM to over react to losing a game. "Losing a game is about a level 2. Can you show me what it would be like to react like the house was on fire?" Do that and laugh, then, "Yeah, that's a level 9 reaction to a level 2 situation. You would never do that, but crying is still about a 4 or 5. What can you do besides crying, that would be more of a level 2 response?" And the answer might be to verbalize that he hates losing, to take some deep breaths, to tell himself silently or out loud that there is always another game, to run to the bathroom and splash water on his face, whatever he is open to that is better than crying. I say "better" than crying, because the other reactions are easier to bounce back from than a bout of tears, and easier for other people to deal with.  

 

Out of all the strategies we tried, this one worked the best. I will not lie, though - we had to do this for years, lol. My first example always comes to mind because my oldest, upon being told I had gone to the store, burst into tears and said, "Our family is ruined!"  :lol: 

 

Another helpful strategy was to ask them if they needed to take a break, if we could see that things were going south. Use this wording in place of time out whenever possible. "DS, you hit the dog, I think you need to take a break. Come back when you feel better." Semantics, in one way, but it puts the focus on helping the child rather than sounding punitive. Eventually, my youngest in particular was able to say, "I need a break" and remove herself before overreacting. Eventually. Sometimes. 

 

Both strategies work on the premise that It is easier to replace a behavior than to simply stop a behavior. 

 

Good luck, it's exhausting, lol. 

 

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No advice about emotional kids other than if you see a therapist, seek out a cognitive behavioral therapist.  IME they are far better at producing results.

 

You might try a lower histamine diet and see if that helps. This means:

  • Eating more foods that break down histamine (things high in quercetin) like apples, peppers, berries, green veggies, and citrus fruits.  Breaking down histamine is probably where the old saying An apple a day keeps the doctor away comes from.  If he can swallow pills, quercetin supplements are available.
  • Avoid aged proteins, fermented foods, and pork products.  If he must eat cheese, try to get fresh cheeses. Better yet, no cheese at all.  No yogurt or natural sourkraut or kombucha or anything else that is marketed to be high in probiotics except perhaps supplements. Some people feel best on no vinegar.  Wheat is high in histamines. If you bring home meat from the store, be careful to choose the freshest, non-aged options available, cook them immediately, and freeze to prevent histamines from forming. Pork products are very high in histamine naturally, if you must have bacon or sausage, use turkey or bacon sausage instead.
  • You might try limiting food colors, especially red dyes, and see if that helps too.

 

ETA:  If lower histamine helps, you might find it's only necessary during pollen season, and the rest of the year he's fine eating anything.

Edited by Katy

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My youngest ds is like this. On the flip side he is also very empathetic and compassionate towards other people's feeling and emotions in a way that the older kids. He understands emotional and social situations in a way that even my 11 year old doesn't.

 

More Sleep does help. Getting him to sleep more is almost impossible though!

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The idea of role-playing and giving it a number for each little reaction is brilliant! This kid loves it numbers and math so that would actually really make sense to him. We're going to try it!

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Is it feasible for you to treat emotional intelligence like a school subject? Approaching emotions academically is a safe and non shaming way to grow in this area. It can help littles wrap their minds around the idea that there is choice involved in feelings and reactions and that there are different ways to handle the same situation.

 

We have done so much of this.

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I had this kid (now 5 also) until about a month ago, when we quit gluten. He can even skip his morning nap pretty regularly and be quite a happy guy (handles stress a lot better!!). And yes, mine is smart. He'll likely be my earliest reader. If he has my husband's math skills, school will be a breeze. Getting out the gluten has been sooooo much better. Give it 2-3 weeks to see a change.

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My very bright kid is also incredibly emotional. He is kind of starting to outgrow it. He's 12.

 

He also suffered from fructose malabsorption (which he has mostly outgrown) and in hindsight I think he may have had/has nutritional deficincies that affected his behavior as well.

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You might extend the "level 5, level 3" type stuff with social stories.

We used social stories quite by accident with my then-undiag'd aspie kiddo. 

Basically, just tell a few bedtime stories where a character of your made-up choosing gets into situations similar to those your son faces and reacts over the top, or handles things, or ...whatever you want your son to practice. 

Our character was Carrot Bear. 

I started one night by saying, There once was a fuzzy little bear named....and Ds filled in, "Carrot Bear!" 

I told a story one Christmas season about Carrot Bear receiving pjs for his Christmas Eve present, wanting to mitigate any disappointment ds might experience when he opened his jammies (they got to open one gift on Christmas Eve). The next day when ds opened them, he said, "Just like Carrot Bear!" and was quite happy. 

 

Anyway, there are lots of examples on the web. 

 

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Does anyone know of a curriculum or book for emotional intelligence? I have two big emotion boys, and this thread is very timely. They tend to feel everything big - sadness and anger being two that are tough to deal with. I love the level idea - thank you! 

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I've got a boy like you're describing. Mine is 6, going on 7. Everything is very exciting or very terrible. He shouts almost everything that he says. For us one thing that has helped was to institute a bedtime based on how much he's cried during the day. We start the clock at 7:30 and for every instance of inappropriate crying I dock 10 minutes. You could go with 5 if it's happening many many times a day. This has given him a goal to shoot for. I think that it's helped a lot. As a side benefit he's become really good at the mental math required to figure out how much time until his bedtime on any given day. :laugh:

 

A very long time ago, I got advice on these boards that helped my super intense, super emotional kids. I think it had a name but I've forgotten it. 

 

Basically, you begin by having a discussion about possible situations and responses, and how you should try to match your response to the situation. Lots of silly talk to get their attention (role playing a house-is-on-fire reaction to a ball-rolled-in-the-street stimulus), and lots of talk about what different reactions might look like. You are having this discussion at a completely calm time when nothing is going on, not in response to an actual situation. 

 

Then you advise them (ongoing) on how their responses are matching the situation or not. 

 

"I know you're sad that mom went to the store, but you're responding like it's level 7 when it's really level 3, because she will be home in twenty minutes." 

 

"You're really mad because your cousin took your toy, but that is still only about a level 4. The toy isn't ruined - that might make it a level 6 or 7, but I was right here and got the toy back for you to play with. Instead of crying, what other reaction could you have?" and then talking about other reactions like tell and adult, ask for the toy back, and so on. 

 

 You talk in advance about trigger situations. Losing games can be a really fun one to role play an over reaction to (remember, you are doing this at a completely separate time, not when he is actually reacting). Once he gets the gist of levels, ask HIM to over react to losing a game. "Losing a game is about a level 2. Can you show me what it would be like to react like the house was on fire?" Do that and laugh, then, "Yeah, that's a level 9 reaction to a level 2 situation. You would never do that, but crying is still about a 4 or 5. What can you do besides crying, that would be more of a level 2 response?" And the answer might be to verbalize that he hates losing, to take some deep breaths, to tell himself silently or out loud that there is always another game, to run to the bathroom and splash water on his face, whatever he is open to that is better than crying. I say "better" than crying, because the other reactions are easier to bounce back from than a bout of tears, and easier for other people to deal with.  

 

Out of all the strategies we tried, this one worked the best. I will not lie, though - we had to do this for years, lol. My first example always comes to mind because my oldest, upon being told I had gone to the store, burst into tears and said, "Our family is ruined!"  :lol: 

 

Another helpful strategy was to ask them if they needed to take a break, if we could see that things were going south. Use this wording in place of time out whenever possible. "DS, you hit the dog, I think you need to take a break. Come back when you feel better." Semantics, in one way, but it puts the focus on helping the child rather than sounding punitive. Eventually, my youngest in particular was able to say, "I need a break" and remove herself before overreacting. Eventually. Sometimes. 

 

Both strategies work on the premise that It is easier to replace a behavior than to simply stop a behavior. 

 

Good luck, it's exhausting, lol. 

 

We do this too. It definitely has helped my boy too.

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We did something similar, I have 2 NT kids, one with anxiety, one ADHD. We called it the "Wall of Solutions". So every time there was a meltdown over something easily solve-able we'd talk about it later and put together a page with the problem and the solution - using pictures instead of words where appropriate. We mounted it in the front hallway - one 8.5x11 for each problem. 

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One of my girls was like that. I put a chair in my bedroom and told her it was the crying chair. When she got upset and started crying I would gently tell her to go sit in the crying chair until she was done crying. This was not in any way a punishment. I empathised with her and handled it in a very matter-of-fact way. It didn't end the crying...she grew out of it eventually...but it did save my sanity.

 

Susan in TX

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I have one of these, so I’m watching this thread carefully. Mine is 4 and is my NT kiddo and super smart. My biggest frustration right now is that I KNOW he’d be happier if he was learning all the things (so his brain would be better occupied), but he doesn’t want to learn much that I have to teach him. He doesn’t like audiobooks, he’s not interested in playing with numbers, he tolerates learning to read but is annoyed that he isn’t awesome at it yet.

 

He wants to spend every moment playing and imagining (which is great), but he wants to play WITH someone at all times. Oldest son, who is on the spectrum, drives youngest crazy. He’s not flexible enough when they play to keep up with youngest’s imagination (constant tantrums when they play). Youngest does ok with middle son when middle son is up for playing (I.e. his anxiety isn’t out of control), but that’s fairly rare. Or me? Mostly, he wants me. He wakes up before daylight angry because I’m not awake and playing. He goes throughout the day angry because he wants to play. He goes to bed angry because he wants 800 stories and songs. Then, he wakes up angry because it’s 5am and I’m not ready to play. I’m exhausted. I struggle to get schoolwork with my other two (both 2E) done because I’m managing tantrums and attention-seeking from the 4 year-old. He’s always been intense and emotional, but it’s increased since the last move 5 months ago.

 

He started preschool last week. It’s helping! 17.5 hours a week to play with people who are Not Us. :-) That’s all I’ve got.

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Does anyone know of a curriculum or book for emotional intelligence? I have two big emotion boys, and this thread is very timely. They tend to feel everything big - sadness and anger being two that are tough to deal with. I love the level idea - thank you! 

 

Have you looked at the MindUP books?

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I have a similar 5 year old. I’d say in the past year he has gotten much better, especially at home, but he will still have breakdowns.

 

His are definitely related to hunger (blood sugar) and being tired although it is not just those two reasons. He is also a perfectionist but doesn’t have the fine motor skills to be one. He has thought from the time he was tiny that he should be able to do everything his older siblings are capable of, despite being younger. I also tend to be an emotional person, so I’m sure just a bit of that is genetics.

 

When he is upset I coach him to take deep breaths to help him calm down. If it’s near mealtime, I’ll get some food in him. If I think he’s tired I’ll offer his the chance to rest. When he was crying because he didn’t want to stand next to a certain girl in the Sunday school picture I wasn’t there, but afterward we talked about how he could have handled the situation differently.

 

He has had a lot of trouble with sport type activities so we took a break from him doing any for awhile.

 

I don’t know if any of that will help you, but I sympathize with you because it’s hard not to go crazy when you have a kid crying all the time.

Ooooh, I get this!  Ds cries if his handwriting isn't perfect.  He's so bright, but man, it's difficult! 

 

Enough sleep, enough calorie-rich non-sugar food, and lots and lots and lots of coaching and talking are helping.... I think.  We'll see in a few years!  I'm so grateful that I read the Mindset book before I met this kid of mine.  :)

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I have one much older now, and looking at it from that perspective I'd say a few things...

 

First, even though it's hard, you're lucky that he's vocal about his emotional sensitivities.  Mine started out very vocal, and when I thought he was outgrowing it, it turned out that he was just turning it inward.  So then I didn't see it anymore.  Turning it inward can be worse, because if they're good at hiding it you don't see if it's becoming a problem and you can't help them.  So keep talking about it!

 

Part of the problem with my ds was that he had a lot of good fortune growing up, so didn't have a lot of reason to be emotionally distraught!  Until he became older still, and that's when it all started coming out.

 

He is very intense and very intellectually gifted, and his emotions only register in the extreme.  But he does know that about himself now and we talk about it a lot -- even though he is a young man now and is on his own.  I'm so glad he talks to me about it.   He hasn't been able to take away the intensity through which he experiences life, but he doesn't blame his emotions on others or circumstances anymore.  He is beginning to understand that his extreme emotions change his perception of things, and that it's not always accurate.  He also knows it's just the way he is.

 

I don't know if this has anything helpful in it, but that's our experience.

 

 

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We had that when my younger son was that age.  Finally, when he was 6 or 7, I had had enough.  I informed him that he would stop freaking out about every little thing.  I took his screens away for a month and informed him that the month started when he stopped it with the tantrums.  He was only allowed to cry when he was hurt.

 

The tantrums stopped that day.

Edited by EKS

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I didn't read all of the thread so this may have been said but two things came up for me when I read this...

 

First, he sounds like the classic discrepancy between IQ and EQ. Basically, kids who are bright and/or gifted have significant thoughts and brain power but the emotional regulation of their age. These added thoughts and awareness lead to heightened sensitivity. It takes a while for that gap to close.

 

Also, this can happen when kids are sensitive to dyes in their food. Especially red dyes. Pay close attention to his diet and try to go dye free for a week and see if anything gets better for him.

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