My 6-year-old has incredible mood swings

Posted by David Beard, Globe Staff  December 9, 2008 06:04 AM

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The following came during a Boston.com readers' Q&A with Child Caring writer Barbara Meltz:

Question: Hi Barbara, My 6-year-old son has unbelievable mood swings. He is generally great to be around, but sometimes gets so angry that he becomes unbearable. Any advice on how to calm him down during a fit? We have noticed a correlation to his hunger and his fits, so we do try to keep him fed. Thanks.
HARRY

Barbara Meltz:
Harry, while it's true that some mood swings can be related to low-blood sugar, "unbelievable" mood swings sound to me like something that needs professional consultation.

I would also want to know what the teachers see in school and what their thoughts are.

Readers, what advice do you have? Let us know in our comments section and check out these recent entries:

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29 comments so far...
  1. My oldest son (age 10) is also very moody to an extreme and always has been. People try to minimize it but you know as a parent that there is moody and there is MOODY, with anger and sullenness and darkness that is utterly disproportionate to the child's age or whatever the situation is that seems to have triggered the mood change.

    To the poster (Harry), follow your gut and talk to school and other adults (friends' parents, coaches) to see if they have noticed anything. Find out of there is a family history of mood disorders. I was surprised to learn that of my generation of 16 siblings and first cousins 8 have a psychological or neurological disorder such as depression, anxiety, or AD/HD - it's not the kind of thing people talk about at a holiday dinner! Consult with your pediatrician or a psychologist if think it's warranted. The wait for a good child psych can be long but definitely try to get someone who is recommended - we've wasted a lot of time on people who weren't a good match or just want to push medication and are on a wait list for someone else who seems like a good fit. I have found that big mood swings are common among children I know with ADHD (including my son). We have had good results from meeting with a nutritionist who has provided fish oil and other supplements to balance out his system - these have a positive effect on his mood, memory and learning. Despite that, I think it is likely that as he gets older my son may very likely be diagnosed with unipolar or bipolar depression so I watch for signs and am trying to learn as much about these disorders in adolescents as possible so that if he seems headed in that direction we can help him as early as possible.

    Trust your insticts and follow your gut!

    Posted by Jen December 10, 08 01:16 AM
  1. I would talk to your sons teachers, and find out if this behavior is crossing settings. If in fact it is not crossing setting I would say that the function of his behavior is either attention or escape. You will need strategies for combating both of these behaviors. Behavior = need…what does you son need.

    Posted by nava December 10, 08 10:08 AM
  1. My 5 year old has large mood swings based on hunger, and she is often hungry. I guess it really depends on how "unbelievable" the mood swings are. Is it out of proportion to those of the boy's friends when they have play dates? If so, then maybe help is needed. If not, then more frequent snacks may be all that is needed.

    Having read a few books on the subject of hunger, it seems that kids are naturally hungry much more often than adults, and need to east at least a small snack every couple of hours. When they get forced into the 3 meal a day routine, they sometimes have troubles. Just my 2 cents.

    Posted by dad_of_two December 10, 08 10:43 AM
  1. This is my experience with six year-olds -- I'm on my second. Logic doesn't work to calm him down, but eventually he's fine again. Chances are good that by the time he's seven or eight, he'll be fine, but use your own best judgment. I considered professional help, but wasn't convinced it would help, and it sure would be a big hassle and expense. I've talked to other parents who had similar situations with their six year-olds, and the children have grown out of it.

    Posted by Alison December 10, 08 10:47 AM
  1. I think the real question is whether 6 year olds are going through a developmental stage where they'll just have these mood swings. My 6 year old is great 98% of the time, but once in a while, something will set a mood swing off and in 5 seconds a minor incident triggers something major.

    Posted by Liz December 10, 08 11:01 AM
  1. Take away the audience.

    When he has a "fit", send him to his room to calm down. No if's, ands, or buts. This works with my 6 year old. If there is no one to watch him freaking out, he calms right down and comes out of his room a different kid.

    Posted by Mama December 10, 08 11:04 AM
  1. What is an 'unbelievable fit'. At what point should we get concerned? My five year old boy (who has been very personable) has started to punch things with his fist (not people), etc. I was thinking that we just needed to teach him proper ways to handle anger, but I am not sure what the norm is?

    Posted by jemifa December 10, 08 11:18 AM
  1. My son was the same way at this age -- irritable, moody -- so I took him to a child psychologist at MGH who diagnosed him with mild asperger's (which later turned out to be a misdiagnosis). Anyway, the doctor did play therapy with my son for a year. He also went to a social skills group at school for a year or two. Then in the first grade, he recovered, and became a totally different child! I couldn't believe it. We never expected it. And we are so pleased, or course.

    So hang in there. Your child can change and get better if you get him help for his moodiness now. And be careful about any Dx that doctors give your child (e.g. autism, asperger's, bipolar) -- it's very hard to get rid of a Dx, and it can keep your kid from getting into many good private schools later.

    However, I am watching my child closely for any signs of a developing mood disorder -- I think he's at risk for getting one later due to his early childhood mood problems. And we try to reduce the stress in his life as much as possible, and make him as happy as possible, just to help his moods. So I guess I am saying he still struggles a little bit with his moods at times, but it's no longer pathological or destructive. It's just normal moodiness that any kid has.

    Posted by MySonWasLikeThatToo December 10, 08 11:21 AM
  1. Barabara...your comment to seek counseling for a 6 year old who has hissy fits when he is hungry....seems very inappropriate. If Harry's son calms down after he was fed, then DUH....he was hungry. He needs to make sure he keeps his son fed. That's the solution. Not counseling. Kids act up when they are tired or hungry...or both.

    I agree you need to see how he behaves in school. But to suggest counseling from the get go is....BAD ADVICE.

    Posted by BigDuke December 10, 08 11:54 AM
  1. Good for you for taking action. It could be something, could be nothing. Blood sugar could be the problem, but sometimes that masks something more important.
    Start with a mainstream mental health professional. Don't try to self-diagnose or self-treat; no offense intended here, but you're an amateur and your son deserves a professional with lots of experience.
    (From a father who is very glad he referred his daughter to the pros years ago. She's doing great now.)

    Posted by Frank57 December 10, 08 12:00 PM
  1. First of all, why as the parent of the child are you spending time posting your child's emotional problems on the web instead of meeting your child's doctor and perhaps getting a referral to a children's shrink and or a full medical evaluation. Yes, professional help is needed. Please do that and do not wait any longer.

    Posted by urout December 10, 08 12:19 PM
  1. I have great empathy for you. Had 4, two with behavior you described. Happy to say that all four now out of college and have families of their own. But over the years ... I've seen it all. Probably a violent temper tantrum but don’t ask me why a child suddenly goes bonkers and he may not grow of it for years.

    If the behavior happens in school also, you may want to seek professional counseling (for the family).

    Posted by Otis December 10, 08 01:49 PM
  1. good luck - sounds like you'll be buying a lot more groceries!

    Posted by john December 10, 08 02:17 PM
  1. Hey Blogger - wake up, get to work and post some comments!

    Posted by john December 10, 08 02:30 PM
  1. There's definitely no easy fix, but seeking advice and input from others, including teachers or coaches, is the way to go. I have been working with kids with emotional and behavioral disorders for over ten years and there is a good chance of a misdiagnosis, but that shouldn't keep you from seeking some help. I would also be a little bit wary of using food to fix the problem... that often leads to bigger problems down the road -- if a temper tantrum gets him what he wants, that is a learned behavior that will be difficult to undo. There are plenty of psychologists/counselors/social workers out there who will work with children without labeling them or immediately suggesting medication.

    Posted by Anne December 10, 08 03:56 PM
  1. Harry here (original poster). Regarding school, he is doing very well at school (1st grade) and his teacher says he is never a problem there. He has plenty of friends and usually gets along with them very well.

    We have spoken to his pediatrician about his sometimes particularly angry mood and he was not alarmed. We will continue to monitor the situation and will seek additional professional help if it seems necessary. At this point, I do not believe it is necessary. I am hoping he is just a moody kid whose behavior can be managed by making sure he is not hungry and giving him proper parental support. Thank you to all who offered advice.

    Posted by Harry December 10, 08 04:24 PM
  1. Been down (and still going down) that road. Thought he would grow out of it or I could parent my way out of it. It could be one thing or a combination of things (anything from bipolar to allergies to ADHD to sleep disorder to OCD). From a practical perspective, I recommend the following: 1. Keep a daily (even hourly) journal of your son's activities - what he eats, what he wears, how much sleep he's had, etc. After a few days/weeks, you may see some patterns. Doctors like patterns. 2. Start making phone calls ASAP to get your son evaluated (neurodevelopmental, neuropsych, sensory). Wait times are anywhere from 6-12 months. If you figure out that he's angry because he's allergic to something, then you can cancel the evaluations. Start with your primary physician, but concurrently call either Mass General, Tufts CCSN, North Shore Children's Hospital, etc. Plan on spending a lot of time on hold, getting transfered, etc. 3. Get a folder(s) and box/filing cabinet and start keeping copies of all of your son's paperwork (evaluations, report cards, medical records, IEPs (if you go there) etc.) 4. Educate yourself via the web. For sites, I recommend starting with concordspedpac.org, since it has a host of great links. Greatschools.net has a robust discussion board (also, the defunct schwablearning.org discussion board has some tremendous information). There's a ton of books, but until you get a diagnosis, it's a shot in the dark. 5. Get a book and/or see a counselor on how to parent an angry child. This one sounds trite and I apologize - but I was a big yeller and screamer and was making things worse, til I realized that I was half the problem. 6. Take advantage of whatever support system you have (friends, neighbors, relatives) - you will need them and you will be thankful you have them to lean on.
    Hope this helps.

    Posted by hockeydad December 10, 08 09:31 PM
  1. I WOULD CHECK OUT HIS DIET. A LOT OF FOOD DYES LIKE RED AND YELLOW CAN CAUSE A REACTION IN BEHAVIOR. THERE ARE SO MANY ADDITIVES AND PRESERVATIVES IN OUR FOOD, THEY CAN CAUSE AN ALLERGIC REACTION HOURS EVEN A FEW DAYS LATER. JUST SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT. I KNOW MY SON'S ATTITUDE GO SOUR AFTER EATING ANYTHING WITH FOOD DYES. IT HAPPENED JUST LAST NIGHT. I AM IN THE PROCESS OF BEING A DETECTIVE AND TAKING OUT THE "JUNK".

    Posted by MOM December 11, 08 09:47 AM
  1. We have a soon-to-be 6 year old that's unbearable and has been for the last three years. We're at our wits end and going for professional help. I think the advice about putting your child in your room and he/she will get over it is way off. Take matters into your own hands and get professional advice.

    Posted by Concerneddad December 11, 08 12:37 PM
  1. We have a 6-year old who was diagnosed first with Sensory Integration, then with ADHD, then with a mood disorder. His extreme mood swings have improved somewhat with medication, but it is still something that needs to be managed. Yes, satisfying his hunger does help, but I don't really think it's normal to have extreme mood swings caused solely by hunger or else every 6 year old would experience this. Good luck and get professional help. They are trained after all to distinguish normal ups and downs and something out of the ordinary.

    Posted by Ed Andrews December 11, 08 04:04 PM
  1. I think Barbara could have been much more specific here about what she means by "professional help." Before this parent goes off and seeks diagnoses for mood disorders or goes to extreme (but thoughtful) measures as described by #17 poster hockeydad or what have you, it seems to me that the professional help the family should get is going to their pediatrician.

    Posted by ramona December 14, 08 07:12 PM
  1. I have a 6 year old who will be turning 7 in one week. she is my only child. she is so unbearable at times. i have took her to therapy, but she almost seems to be getting worse. she doesn't want to fallow rules. she even told me that. She pretends to forget or not understand what I ask of her . trying to change around what I tell her to do, and temper tantrums, weather we are in public or not she is determined to get her way. I feel like I have no control with her, or at least a battle with her at all times, for every situation. Am i not doing something right as a parent? Please give me some insight on this. Thank you. Francine

    Posted by Francine laskowski January 3, 09 01:13 PM
  1. I understand what you are going through.. My six year old son is so unbearable, i feel like i need therapy. I dont know if he has ADHD or something like bi polar or who knows. I am a nurse and sometimes he behaves like someone who is diagnosed with a psych disorder who hasnt been taking his meds. Will be going to the doctor this week. I just can't take the anger outbursts anymore. Starting to look like a battered wife, but just a battered mom. He hits he kicks he pinches me and loves to slam and kick doors. Not fun to be around when he is like this. Good luck hopefully you get the help your child needs

    Posted by Linda January 25, 09 09:31 PM
  1. Type your comment here...i have a 6yr old boy, who at home seems fine a little withdrawn from friends in the nieghborhood. he loves to build w/ his legos all day! but at school we have been having severe outburst he has been suspended 2 times and he's in 1rst grade, he hits teachers and screams and cries, but at home completely calm? I'm very confused anyone understand?

    Posted by texasmom February 11, 09 12:38 PM
  1. I have a 10 year old son who has had a problem with seperation anxiety since pre-school and is now having the most bizaar mood swings, he gets very angry then really withdrawn and tearfull, he can't explain why he gets angry in the first place. The most random of things will set him off, he also comes out with things that happenened hours ago as an excuse for his moodiness. I feel so helpless as he seems such a troubled little boy, but yet his brother is a completely different character and both are bought up the same. Any advice is welcomed like how do i find a good child pshychologist???

    Posted by Sharon February 18, 09 05:18 PM
  1. I have a 6 year old daughter that is in therapy and has recently been diagnosed with generalized anxiety, OCD, and possibly a mood disorder. She can switch her disposition on a dime. Most of the time it is when she does not get her way. She has two older sisters that are in college and her dad and I are divorced. We are both very active in her life and extremly worried about her. The doctor has tried two medications the first being prosac and the second one was depokote. She had bad reactions to both ( more aggression). The strange thing is she can hold herself together at school. She does bite her nails and the skin on her fingers during school, but her behavior is good. When she home she is a different child. Any recommendations on possible medications that have worked for similar situations. She is on 40 pounds...very small, but extremly active almost like she runs on a motor.

    Posted by tina mozingo February 19, 09 06:52 PM
  1. to tina...my oldest daughter who is now 9..was diagnosed ocd,adhd,and bi-polar...i know the moodswings everyone is talking about....the absolute best meds she has been on are concerta,triliptal,and clonidine,she is a completely different child,she can laugh and have fun now,,,my middle daughter who is 6, is starting to go into this spiral of moodswings and aggression....

    Posted by theresa eyrich February 22, 09 01:35 PM
  1. I have a 6 year old boy who is very loving and caring up to about 2 weeks ago he has totally changed he throws fits, screams, tantrums when he dont get his way, I am at my wits end with him, I want to get him help, but what if its not the right kind of help, how would that affect him in the future,he has some family members with mental disorders and im afraid he is going to have them as well, i see what my family goes through and i dont want him going through the same thing, it seems like childrem go throught a stage in life aroung this age where they become very moody could it be just a stage.

    Posted by Joan Reynolds July 23, 09 11:15 PM
  1. okay, I came here hoping to find good advice for my own situation, but I'm thinking...the info isn't so good. Everyone seems quick to diagnose and/or suggest medical intervention. My daughter is 12 and this is NOT pre-mentral since she's done this most her life, but she too has extreme mood swings that are cured by food. She's an average healthy size and plays several sports. I put this so noone assumes she's an obese spoiled child trying to get food. When she's hungry...feed her NOW, or deal with the mood! It gets so bad, I thought maybe she has low-blood sugar (diabetes) which was originally what I searched. It doesn't appear that this is the case. I found a blog online that suggests just what it appears to be... a "food swing" or "hangry" spell. So I guess I'll do what they all suggest, keep a healthy snack available and when she seems unreasonable, I will offer up the snack. Maybe that's all your son needs too, although, I will say, the blogs DID suggest it is less common in males. Good luck, I hope, for yours and his sake that it's just that he needs a snack every now and then. Good luck! :)

    Posted by Brenda May 7, 12 08:33 PM
 
29 comments so far...
  1. My oldest son (age 10) is also very moody to an extreme and always has been. People try to minimize it but you know as a parent that there is moody and there is MOODY, with anger and sullenness and darkness that is utterly disproportionate to the child's age or whatever the situation is that seems to have triggered the mood change.

    To the poster (Harry), follow your gut and talk to school and other adults (friends' parents, coaches) to see if they have noticed anything. Find out of there is a family history of mood disorders. I was surprised to learn that of my generation of 16 siblings and first cousins 8 have a psychological or neurological disorder such as depression, anxiety, or AD/HD - it's not the kind of thing people talk about at a holiday dinner! Consult with your pediatrician or a psychologist if think it's warranted. The wait for a good child psych can be long but definitely try to get someone who is recommended - we've wasted a lot of time on people who weren't a good match or just want to push medication and are on a wait list for someone else who seems like a good fit. I have found that big mood swings are common among children I know with ADHD (including my son). We have had good results from meeting with a nutritionist who has provided fish oil and other supplements to balance out his system - these have a positive effect on his mood, memory and learning. Despite that, I think it is likely that as he gets older my son may very likely be diagnosed with unipolar or bipolar depression so I watch for signs and am trying to learn as much about these disorders in adolescents as possible so that if he seems headed in that direction we can help him as early as possible.

    Trust your insticts and follow your gut!

    Posted by Jen December 10, 08 01:16 AM
  1. I would talk to your sons teachers, and find out if this behavior is crossing settings. If in fact it is not crossing setting I would say that the function of his behavior is either attention or escape. You will need strategies for combating both of these behaviors. Behavior = need…what does you son need.

    Posted by nava December 10, 08 10:08 AM
  1. My 5 year old has large mood swings based on hunger, and she is often hungry. I guess it really depends on how "unbelievable" the mood swings are. Is it out of proportion to those of the boy's friends when they have play dates? If so, then maybe help is needed. If not, then more frequent snacks may be all that is needed.

    Having read a few books on the subject of hunger, it seems that kids are naturally hungry much more often than adults, and need to east at least a small snack every couple of hours. When they get forced into the 3 meal a day routine, they sometimes have troubles. Just my 2 cents.

    Posted by dad_of_two December 10, 08 10:43 AM
  1. This is my experience with six year-olds -- I'm on my second. Logic doesn't work to calm him down, but eventually he's fine again. Chances are good that by the time he's seven or eight, he'll be fine, but use your own best judgment. I considered professional help, but wasn't convinced it would help, and it sure would be a big hassle and expense. I've talked to other parents who had similar situations with their six year-olds, and the children have grown out of it.

    Posted by Alison December 10, 08 10:47 AM
  1. I think the real question is whether 6 year olds are going through a developmental stage where they'll just have these mood swings. My 6 year old is great 98% of the time, but once in a while, something will set a mood swing off and in 5 seconds a minor incident triggers something major.

    Posted by Liz December 10, 08 11:01 AM
  1. Take away the audience.

    When he has a "fit", send him to his room to calm down. No if's, ands, or buts. This works with my 6 year old. If there is no one to watch him freaking out, he calms right down and comes out of his room a different kid.

    Posted by Mama December 10, 08 11:04 AM
  1. What is an 'unbelievable fit'. At what point should we get concerned? My five year old boy (who has been very personable) has started to punch things with his fist (not people), etc. I was thinking that we just needed to teach him proper ways to handle anger, but I am not sure what the norm is?

    Posted by jemifa December 10, 08 11:18 AM
  1. My son was the same way at this age -- irritable, moody -- so I took him to a child psychologist at MGH who diagnosed him with mild asperger's (which later turned out to be a misdiagnosis). Anyway, the doctor did play therapy with my son for a year. He also went to a social skills group at school for a year or two. Then in the first grade, he recovered, and became a totally different child! I couldn't believe it. We never expected it. And we are so pleased, or course.

    So hang in there. Your child can change and get better if you get him help for his moodiness now. And be careful about any Dx that doctors give your child (e.g. autism, asperger's, bipolar) -- it's very hard to get rid of a Dx, and it can keep your kid from getting into many good private schools later.

    However, I am watching my child closely for any signs of a developing mood disorder -- I think he's at risk for getting one later due to his early childhood mood problems. And we try to reduce the stress in his life as much as possible, and make him as happy as possible, just to help his moods. So I guess I am saying he still struggles a little bit with his moods at times, but it's no longer pathological or destructive. It's just normal moodiness that any kid has.

    Posted by MySonWasLikeThatToo December 10, 08 11:21 AM
  1. Barabara...your comment to seek counseling for a 6 year old who has hissy fits when he is hungry....seems very inappropriate. If Harry's son calms down after he was fed, then DUH....he was hungry. He needs to make sure he keeps his son fed. That's the solution. Not counseling. Kids act up when they are tired or hungry...or both.

    I agree you need to see how he behaves in school. But to suggest counseling from the get go is....BAD ADVICE.

    Posted by BigDuke December 10, 08 11:54 AM
  1. Good for you for taking action. It could be something, could be nothing. Blood sugar could be the problem, but sometimes that masks something more important.
    Start with a mainstream mental health professional. Don't try to self-diagnose or self-treat; no offense intended here, but you're an amateur and your son deserves a professional with lots of experience.
    (From a father who is very glad he referred his daughter to the pros years ago. She's doing great now.)

    Posted by Frank57 December 10, 08 12:00 PM
  1. First of all, why as the parent of the child are you spending time posting your child's emotional problems on the web instead of meeting your child's doctor and perhaps getting a referral to a children's shrink and or a full medical evaluation. Yes, professional help is needed. Please do that and do not wait any longer.

    Posted by urout December 10, 08 12:19 PM
  1. I have great empathy for you. Had 4, two with behavior you described. Happy to say that all four now out of college and have families of their own. But over the years ... I've seen it all. Probably a violent temper tantrum but don’t ask me why a child suddenly goes bonkers and he may not grow of it for years.

    If the behavior happens in school also, you may want to seek professional counseling (for the family).

    Posted by Otis December 10, 08 01:49 PM
  1. good luck - sounds like you'll be buying a lot more groceries!

    Posted by john December 10, 08 02:17 PM
  1. Hey Blogger - wake up, get to work and post some comments!

    Posted by john December 10, 08 02:30 PM
  1. There's definitely no easy fix, but seeking advice and input from others, including teachers or coaches, is the way to go. I have been working with kids with emotional and behavioral disorders for over ten years and there is a good chance of a misdiagnosis, but that shouldn't keep you from seeking some help. I would also be a little bit wary of using food to fix the problem... that often leads to bigger problems down the road -- if a temper tantrum gets him what he wants, that is a learned behavior that will be difficult to undo. There are plenty of psychologists/counselors/social workers out there who will work with children without labeling them or immediately suggesting medication.

    Posted by Anne December 10, 08 03:56 PM
  1. Harry here (original poster). Regarding school, he is doing very well at school (1st grade) and his teacher says he is never a problem there. He has plenty of friends and usually gets along with them very well.

    We have spoken to his pediatrician about his sometimes particularly angry mood and he was not alarmed. We will continue to monitor the situation and will seek additional professional help if it seems necessary. At this point, I do not believe it is necessary. I am hoping he is just a moody kid whose behavior can be managed by making sure he is not hungry and giving him proper parental support. Thank you to all who offered advice.

    Posted by Harry December 10, 08 04:24 PM
  1. Been down (and still going down) that road. Thought he would grow out of it or I could parent my way out of it. It could be one thing or a combination of things (anything from bipolar to allergies to ADHD to sleep disorder to OCD). From a practical perspective, I recommend the following: 1. Keep a daily (even hourly) journal of your son's activities - what he eats, what he wears, how much sleep he's had, etc. After a few days/weeks, you may see some patterns. Doctors like patterns. 2. Start making phone calls ASAP to get your son evaluated (neurodevelopmental, neuropsych, sensory). Wait times are anywhere from 6-12 months. If you figure out that he's angry because he's allergic to something, then you can cancel the evaluations. Start with your primary physician, but concurrently call either Mass General, Tufts CCSN, North Shore Children's Hospital, etc. Plan on spending a lot of time on hold, getting transfered, etc. 3. Get a folder(s) and box/filing cabinet and start keeping copies of all of your son's paperwork (evaluations, report cards, medical records, IEPs (if you go there) etc.) 4. Educate yourself via the web. For sites, I recommend starting with concordspedpac.org, since it has a host of great links. Greatschools.net has a robust discussion board (also, the defunct schwablearning.org discussion board has some tremendous information). There's a ton of books, but until you get a diagnosis, it's a shot in the dark. 5. Get a book and/or see a counselor on how to parent an angry child. This one sounds trite and I apologize - but I was a big yeller and screamer and was making things worse, til I realized that I was half the problem. 6. Take advantage of whatever support system you have (friends, neighbors, relatives) - you will need them and you will be thankful you have them to lean on.
    Hope this helps.

    Posted by hockeydad December 10, 08 09:31 PM
  1. I WOULD CHECK OUT HIS DIET. A LOT OF FOOD DYES LIKE RED AND YELLOW CAN CAUSE A REACTION IN BEHAVIOR. THERE ARE SO MANY ADDITIVES AND PRESERVATIVES IN OUR FOOD, THEY CAN CAUSE AN ALLERGIC REACTION HOURS EVEN A FEW DAYS LATER. JUST SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT. I KNOW MY SON'S ATTITUDE GO SOUR AFTER EATING ANYTHING WITH FOOD DYES. IT HAPPENED JUST LAST NIGHT. I AM IN THE PROCESS OF BEING A DETECTIVE AND TAKING OUT THE "JUNK".

    Posted by MOM December 11, 08 09:47 AM
  1. We have a soon-to-be 6 year old that's unbearable and has been for the last three years. We're at our wits end and going for professional help. I think the advice about putting your child in your room and he/she will get over it is way off. Take matters into your own hands and get professional advice.

    Posted by Concerneddad December 11, 08 12:37 PM
  1. We have a 6-year old who was diagnosed first with Sensory Integration, then with ADHD, then with a mood disorder. His extreme mood swings have improved somewhat with medication, but it is still something that needs to be managed. Yes, satisfying his hunger does help, but I don't really think it's normal to have extreme mood swings caused solely by hunger or else every 6 year old would experience this. Good luck and get professional help. They are trained after all to distinguish normal ups and downs and something out of the ordinary.

    Posted by Ed Andrews December 11, 08 04:04 PM
  1. I think Barbara could have been much more specific here about what she means by "professional help." Before this parent goes off and seeks diagnoses for mood disorders or goes to extreme (but thoughtful) measures as described by #17 poster hockeydad or what have you, it seems to me that the professional help the family should get is going to their pediatrician.

    Posted by ramona December 14, 08 07:12 PM
  1. I have a 6 year old who will be turning 7 in one week. she is my only child. she is so unbearable at times. i have took her to therapy, but she almost seems to be getting worse. she doesn't want to fallow rules. she even told me that. She pretends to forget or not understand what I ask of her . trying to change around what I tell her to do, and temper tantrums, weather we are in public or not she is determined to get her way. I feel like I have no control with her, or at least a battle with her at all times, for every situation. Am i not doing something right as a parent? Please give me some insight on this. Thank you. Francine

    Posted by Francine laskowski January 3, 09 01:13 PM
  1. I understand what you are going through.. My six year old son is so unbearable, i feel like i need therapy. I dont know if he has ADHD or something like bi polar or who knows. I am a nurse and sometimes he behaves like someone who is diagnosed with a psych disorder who hasnt been taking his meds. Will be going to the doctor this week. I just can't take the anger outbursts anymore. Starting to look like a battered wife, but just a battered mom. He hits he kicks he pinches me and loves to slam and kick doors. Not fun to be around when he is like this. Good luck hopefully you get the help your child needs

    Posted by Linda January 25, 09 09:31 PM
  1. Type your comment here...i have a 6yr old boy, who at home seems fine a little withdrawn from friends in the nieghborhood. he loves to build w/ his legos all day! but at school we have been having severe outburst he has been suspended 2 times and he's in 1rst grade, he hits teachers and screams and cries, but at home completely calm? I'm very confused anyone understand?

    Posted by texasmom February 11, 09 12:38 PM
  1. I have a 10 year old son who has had a problem with seperation anxiety since pre-school and is now having the most bizaar mood swings, he gets very angry then really withdrawn and tearfull, he can't explain why he gets angry in the first place. The most random of things will set him off, he also comes out with things that happenened hours ago as an excuse for his moodiness. I feel so helpless as he seems such a troubled little boy, but yet his brother is a completely different character and both are bought up the same. Any advice is welcomed like how do i find a good child pshychologist???

    Posted by Sharon February 18, 09 05:18 PM
  1. I have a 6 year old daughter that is in therapy and has recently been diagnosed with generalized anxiety, OCD, and possibly a mood disorder. She can switch her disposition on a dime. Most of the time it is when she does not get her way. She has two older sisters that are in college and her dad and I are divorced. We are both very active in her life and extremly worried about her. The doctor has tried two medications the first being prosac and the second one was depokote. She had bad reactions to both ( more aggression). The strange thing is she can hold herself together at school. She does bite her nails and the skin on her fingers during school, but her behavior is good. When she home she is a different child. Any recommendations on possible medications that have worked for similar situations. She is on 40 pounds...very small, but extremly active almost like she runs on a motor.

    Posted by tina mozingo February 19, 09 06:52 PM
  1. to tina...my oldest daughter who is now 9..was diagnosed ocd,adhd,and bi-polar...i know the moodswings everyone is talking about....the absolute best meds she has been on are concerta,triliptal,and clonidine,she is a completely different child,she can laugh and have fun now,,,my middle daughter who is 6, is starting to go into this spiral of moodswings and aggression....

    Posted by theresa eyrich February 22, 09 01:35 PM
  1. I have a 6 year old boy who is very loving and caring up to about 2 weeks ago he has totally changed he throws fits, screams, tantrums when he dont get his way, I am at my wits end with him, I want to get him help, but what if its not the right kind of help, how would that affect him in the future,he has some family members with mental disorders and im afraid he is going to have them as well, i see what my family goes through and i dont want him going through the same thing, it seems like childrem go throught a stage in life aroung this age where they become very moody could it be just a stage.

    Posted by Joan Reynolds July 23, 09 11:15 PM
  1. okay, I came here hoping to find good advice for my own situation, but I'm thinking...the info isn't so good. Everyone seems quick to diagnose and/or suggest medical intervention. My daughter is 12 and this is NOT pre-mentral since she's done this most her life, but she too has extreme mood swings that are cured by food. She's an average healthy size and plays several sports. I put this so noone assumes she's an obese spoiled child trying to get food. When she's hungry...feed her NOW, or deal with the mood! It gets so bad, I thought maybe she has low-blood sugar (diabetes) which was originally what I searched. It doesn't appear that this is the case. I found a blog online that suggests just what it appears to be... a "food swing" or "hangry" spell. So I guess I'll do what they all suggest, keep a healthy snack available and when she seems unreasonable, I will offer up the snack. Maybe that's all your son needs too, although, I will say, the blogs DID suggest it is less common in males. Good luck, I hope, for yours and his sake that it's just that he needs a snack every now and then. Good luck! :)

    Posted by Brenda May 7, 12 08:33 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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