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How much moodiness is "normal" for a 3 year old?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Anyone else have moody little ones?  First I should say we both have mental illness in our extended family--mother, fathers, etc....  so maybe we're just more worried.. please tell me this is normal!  


My husband and I worry a little about our 3 year old.  He's always been very sensitive.  As a younger toddler he almost ALWAYS woke up screaming from naps or nighttime sleep.  This has gotten better, but the moodiness, grumpiness, and negativity continues.  It's not all the time.  More in the mornings... he seems to be very sensitive to low blood sugar.  If he didn't eat well the night before and hasn't had breakfast yet, watch out!!!  Sometimes loud noises bother him.  Now I will admit that in the past I have gotten frustrated with him.  No matter what I did to try and soothe him, it never seemed to work..eventually I would place him in another room to "have space" until he was ready to come back.  He would calm himself down and come back... but I've always felt guilty about that.  I don't know if that's the right thing to do...


He had a big meltdown yesterday after his nap and I just sat on the floor and held him.  His younger brother then started crying which escalated things for my oldest and so I just sat there in their misery and held them.  Eventually it ended.  It was for no apparent reason that I could identify..


What is the right way to handle this?  I know that frustration and just telling him to stop crying is NOT.  But it is so hard sometimes when it just doesn't stop no matter what I do!!  At what point do you try and teach emotional control and how do you do it??  Is this typical?  

post #2 of 12

Sounds like you're describing my 8yo ds.  He is being evaluated for early-onset bipolar disorder.  Check out bpkids.org.

post #3 of 12

I don't think it's ever too early to start teaching or talking about emotions with your kids.  Even simple books like Today I Feel Silly (Jamie Lee Curtis) can be a good opener to helping them have the words to tell you how they feel, instead of just screaming. 

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

Yikes..  not exactly what I was hoping to hear, but perhaps what I may need to hear so that I'm watchful..  


To what degree is moodiness normal though??  I've been watching him closely the last few days and food seems to play a big role.  Empty belly=major monster..

post #5 of 12

It's hard for me to say what's "normal"...ds1 had his moments, but I would never have called him moody.  Ds2...well, that's the first word that pops in to my mind when I think of ways to describe him.  I guess if it gets to a point where you start feeling like you never enjoy being around your kid, it's an issue.


I might suggest to you working really hard on his diet and having an eval with an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory integration therapy.  In 6 months if there has been no improvment, see the primary care doc to discuss your concers.  And the single most important thing you can do is journal your kiddo's moods.  It's not easy, but from experience, I have learned that if you go in and try to relay everything from memory, you'll forget alot and the dr. will get frsutrated with you and probably dismiss your concerns.  But if you can quantify it by saying "last week, in a 4 day period, ds had 6 episodes of moodiness that caused him to xyz and 4 episodes were brought on by loud noises.  3 of those nights he slept poorly.  he went to bed on time, took 3 hrs to fal asleep and then couldnt get up the next morning until 10am.  also, my mother and fil both have a dx of xyz. i would like some medical testing to rule out a physical condition and then perhaps a psych consult", you will get farther than if you just say "ds is so moody all the time. he cries alot and i cant comfort him".  HTH

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

I know this thread is sooo old, but in case anyone is still paying attention....


Since I posted this, we have discovered that both my husband AND my son (the moody one!) have celiac disease, which account for his moodiness completely.  Since changing his diet, we have seen complete improvement!  Just a spot of hope out there for others!!

post #7 of 12

Congrats! That is amazing that you found the cause!  I was actually going to suggest going gluten free and switching to raw dairy.  :-) glad the moodiness is gone

post #8 of 12

Thank you so much for the update. I've come here tonight to look for answers, as DD sounds a lot like your son, and this gives me something to look into, and thus hope. 

post #9 of 12

Congrats on finding your answers!  What a huge relief I'm sure!  Your son sounds alot like my 3 yo son.  I am getting ready (and have started slightly) to implement the Feingold diet/program to see if that helps.  But I'm debating on whether I should try that first or GF. My MIL and SIL both have Celiac and he's never been tested for it.  He's getting progressively worse with defiance and agressiveness, hitting his little 1 yo brother and also me and my husband, so I need to do something asap!!  Not to mention the crying fits followed by frustrated anger and throwing things.  And to think, I was afraid of the teenage years... Ugh!  Thanks for any advice anyone has for me. 

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

Please, please, please try going gluten-free for him!!!  If relatives have it, there is a good chance he might have it.  It's a genetic thing.  I have been amazed at the difference in my son.  Since going gluten-free there has been one time, where he mistakenly ingested gluten and the nightmare returned full steam if not worse.  It took about a week for him to return to normal.  I am so grateful for gluten awareness.  All in all, it's a very simple diet to implement.  Praying you get your answers!!!

post #11 of 12

I would just go gluten free and forget it!  If there's a genetic disposition even if he's not a full blown celiac, he might just be intolerant or sensitive.  If there is celiac, diabetes, thryroid or adrenal malfunction, arthritis in the family then he's 9 times out of 10 going to be sensitive.  Better to get rid of it. 

post #12 of 12

Thank you so much for the words of encouragement!  I'll happily switch him, if not all of us, to a GF diet.  Heck, maybe that's why my husband is so moody..... LOL  I've already started to limit his gluten consumption as best I can without having the GF kitchen staples and yesterday was not too bad and today has been a good day so far.  I'll just have to get creative until we can buy the GF flour, etc...  Seriously, I'm shocked about these symptons relating to gluten and dyes, etc...  I'm so glad I found this forum!  Thank you for sharing your stories and successes SO much!!

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