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Gluten or Food Allergy Tantrums

Frequent rages accompanied by problems with diarrhea, gas, bloating or constipation may be signs of gluten intolerance and require a physician’s assistance. Older children may also exhibit fatigue (sometimes referred to as brain fog), headaches, dizziness, or joint pain. Symptoms such as these, coupled with extreme self-harming tantrums warrant seeing a gastroenterologist for celiac disease testing. Additional causes could include intestinal parasites, irritable bowel syndrome, bowel bacteria overgrowth, lactose intolerance, wheat allergy, or sensitivity to food additives. Tantrums due to digestive problems are not contrived for manipulation and require your comfort and patience.


Conscious Discipline, a highly respected program for children, makes suggestions that resemble the ideas stated above for temperament tantrums. Dr. Bailey states that tantrums are normal up to age three. With children below three, tantrums happen when the child needs something, feels too tired, has become frustrated, or is hungry. Bailey continues by stating that typically, tantrums begin between the ages of fifteen months and three years. During this time span, a toddler grapples with the concepts of dependence and independence. Outbursts generally reflect the child’s inner struggle. Parents’ responses determine whether tantrums end or continue beyond toddler years. Problems can happen due to the following:

  • Inconsistency with routines or daily practices

  • Expectations that are too demanding

  • Rigid strictness

  • Over-protectiveness

  • Overindulgence

  • Lack of firm limits

  • Lack of the child’s ability to be realistic about the expectations of the parents

  • Distress over divorce, inadequate childcare, death in a family, or depression

When children over three have tantrums, Bailey claims it usually occurs because tantrums have worked in the past. Parents may have been too permissive, the child has become too tired or is experiencing too much stress.

Some children seem easygoing from the beginning, while others become easily frustrated. Either way, a tantrum is non-verbal communication. Some tantrums occur when a child becomes overwhelmed. At other times, the tantrum happens because the child has gotten her way at some time.

Conscious Discipline also believes there are two ways to respond. Either walk away and leave the child alone or pick the child up and hold her close. Deciding which action to take depends on knowing the child. Some children immediately calm down when held and comforted. Others fight for independence. If you decide to pick the child up, hold her close as you say, “Breathe. You are safe. You can handle this. I am with you. I’ve got you.” In addition, honor the child who does not want to be touched. Even the child who prefers to be left alone can be taught to breathe deeply.

Encouraging a child to breathe provides a learning tool for future upsets. As a parent, you will decide which action to take based on your personality, your child’s preferences, and previous successes or disappointments with tantrums. Regardless of the type of tantrum, when it ends and all is calm, Conscious Discipline encourages you to avoid giving in to whatever triggered the initial conflict. Even if you must endure another tantrum, do not give in because of a meltdown. Please remember, if tantrums continue beyond age three it is usually because parents give in and give her what she wants. Once a child decides, I can get what I want if I make my parent miserable enough, the tantrums will continue.


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