38 answers

5 Year Old Having Complete Meltdowns / Possibly ADHD

Hi all, I am wondering if anyone might experience meltdowns... I am not talking like the "he's tired and crabby" meltdown I am talking a fill on fit kicking and screaming, throwing stuff at his parents fit. Let me preface by saying we think my 4 (soon to be 5) year old has ADHD, he has not been tested, he is too young the dr tells me BUT his dad has it and he acts JUST like his dad in certain situations. He is a hyper child and he does lack focus on some days which makes me think he has ADHD but then again I am not a dr am I! Then again I keep hearing of the "stigma" attached to ADHD and you don;t want to label your son or they are to quick to medicate nowadays. He makes outbursts of noise (not like tarets, sorry spelling?, but all of a sudden will yell noise for no reason, that gets on my nerves is why I notice it so much I guess)

He is such a sweet child, very loving, funny, full of energy but some days he is really aggressive, will have a HUGE fit, crying kicking screaming, the whole deal, so much so that we have to hold him down sometimes in an effort to get him to calm down. I have noticed that certain things like red dye trigger him into being extremely hyper so we watch his dye intake as much as we can. He has to take allergy meds, we have tried several kinds, now on allegra, previously on zyrtec and singular both of which flipped him out (anyone have bad experiences on allegra?) We can't get him to sleep in his own bed, it's almost like his brain gets stuck sometimes on whatever his trigger was. i.e. tonight he did not want to leave Peter Piper so kicked and SCREAMED the whole way home. He finally fell asleep about 9pm but I am up at 2am because he was having nightmares and crying in his sleep saying "I don't wanna leave" like he did when we left PP... like his brain was stuck on that event.

We took him to an allergist a couple weeks ago and were told they can not test for allergies to dyes. They did test for a bunch of other stuff. He has allergies and asthma, and a peanut allergy (not that any of that would affect his behavior?)

Like I say we think he has ADHD but at this point I can't tell if it is ADHD related, meds related, or personality related but I know I am at my wits end, I don't know what to do anymore. The doctors won't test until he starts in kindergarten next year, I am wondering if anyone has a child with ADHD, are these fits common? Or maybe it is because of his allergy meds again? Or maybe it's a phase...? He really changed when his brother arrived a little over 2 years ago but I can see some days where it might be food related or chemicals, just seems like he's not in there. Help! I told my dad I was gonna put him on ebay last week lol ugh! I just feel like anymore we wake up and I think "is this gonna be a good or bad day" its like I am waiting for the train wreck (fit or fight) to happen. I just want him to be happy and healthy and for us all to get along.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

if you do believe that it could be food related, you should look up www.celiac.com or www.celiac.org they have links to add and adhd! they have diets that are for that! my husband has celiac disease and the more i have read about it the more i find about what else it could cause! Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful

Hi M.,

I really don't have any experience with kids who have ADHD, but I do know of a book that specializes in all "problem" areas with kids and how to deal with them. It's called: Parenting With Love & Logic by Foster Cline & Jim Fay. I was introduced to it when I was a preschool teacher, and let me tell you that it made a wrold of a difference in both working with 16 two-year olds as well as with my own 7 y.o., 10 y.o. & 14 y.o.!!! Give it a try... You can look at their website love & logic.com

1 mom found this helpful

There are many things that have Red Dye in them - I had a student that was allergic to it as well, and it made her VERY hyper. I would cut it out completely.

Also, my sister has an allergy to Antihistimines - (Allegra, Zyrtec and Singulair may have these) It also made her VERY hyper.

I would start by going to a very basic diet - almost bland. No Sugars. No Juices, etc. After about 2 weeks of this type of diet - start adding in things one at a time... like Juice, or a granola bar etc. You should be able to see some of the "triggers" that happen, especially since after "detoxing his body" it will almost be a shock.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

HI M.,
ALl of the comments are coming from women who have kids more like yours than mine are though one of my 4 has asthma. But I would suggest a naturopathic doctor before any medications. They will help you diagnose any food or environmental triggers.
The company I work with focuses on all natural cleaning products to keep his environment toxic free, so you may be interested in that (Will post website at end). But again I would recommend the naturopath route. We use Dr. Coleen Huber in Tempe.

Good luck,
C. Willis

2 moms found this helpful

Hi M.,
Let me first say, I think you're a great mom the way you are really looking in to this, obviously trying to nip this in the bud, and help your son. Good for you! The following comment is just a general observation of what I see very often during my work as an OT, and may not have much bearing to your family directly. So, please take it as it comes as a (hopefully) helpful suggestion as you move ahead with your wonderful family.

I work with plenty of very different kids who all carry the ADHD/ADD diagnoses. These are all great kids who love to laugh, play and learn. I've found the ones who "struggle" the most in school are the ones who, "get away" with bad behavior because of their diagnosis.

I had a 5th grader tell me once: I don't have to really listen, because I have ADHD (I am NOT kidding!). Me being someone not to mince words, I told this child that I didn't care if he had it, he was going to control himself and work with me. It worked! And once he heard it more than once, he never caused me any grief, and worked very hard. Yes, he DOES have ADHD, but ADHD was NOT causing his bad behavior. He was just "getting away" with it.

I feel strongly that there is a difference between "bad behavior" and "attention deficit." An attentional problem may(and does) cause a child to lose focus, slow down learning, etc, but this is not a cause of talking back; throwing tantrums; throwing objects; etc.

Frustration is a common start-point for behaviors in kids with learning delays, so getting your son help right away, and staying involved once school starts will be good.

Long and short, find an MD who will help you "tease out" what's really going on with your son (ADHD; meds; allergies; etc); maybe you need to take him to a specialist? But remember: you are the Mom of this great little boy, and the sooner you can help him learn to control his behavior (especially before school starts) the better!

Good luck :)

2 moms found this helpful

FWIW, here are my suggestions:

1. If you can afford it, follow the advice of the mom who took her daughter to a developmental psychologist. I don't know that particular one, but I would try her first because from the mom's description, she sounds like a good bet. Next year your son can be tested at school for free, but I think it would be better to start school with the kind of game plan you can only get through a diagnosis. There are several things that can cause your son's behavior besides ADHD.

2. Steel yourself for some big protests, and put him on an elimination diet to check for food allergies. You may want to do this under the supervision of a medical care practitioner who is an expert in food, chemical and dye allergies. You're more likely to find this in a naturopathic doctor than an MD. You can do this all by yourself, however; look on line for guidelines.

3. Do you absolutely need those allergy meds, even for a few weeks while you're checking for bad reactions to foods and additives?

4. While you're on the elminiation diet, reduce his chemical exposure as much as possible. Remove all air "fresheners" from your home, don't spray for bugs, use the sort of personal-care products on him that you would for a newborn (all vegetable/no detergent/fragrance-free,) get a bottle of Seventh Generation Fragrance-Free Liquid laundry soap (or something similar; 7th generation is very easy to find,) and throw away your dryer sheets. (I say THROW away because the formaldehyde, pthalates and other substances in them are bad for your entire family, anyway.) If you take him out in public, give him a bath as soon as you get home.

2 moms found this helpful

if you do believe that it could be food related, you should look up www.celiac.com or www.celiac.org they have links to add and adhd! they have diets that are for that! my husband has celiac disease and the more i have read about it the more i find about what else it could cause! Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful

I have not had this problem with my own kids, but my cousin did. Her little girl would do much of the same things and we all thought that she had ADHD also. Guess what? It was allergies! We took her OFF of ANYTHING that was not natural. (It was hard). No candy. No sodas (The worst)not even diet sodas. No sugar, no milk, nothing with ANY preservatives in it. That meant that we had to MAKE everything that she ate, but she has grown up into a lovely young lady - and has TERRIFIC eating habits! All of the problems stopped when we did this. BUT - you have to be diligent! One soda pop can spoil the whole day!
Hope this helps. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful

I am a former special ed. teacher and mother of a 2 year old. My daughter was having issues also. I had her tested by a company called Better Health USA. They check for foods (88 different foods) only but it made a HUGE difference in melt downs. She had problems with 28 different foods. This testing I felt was better than what I got from the allergist though many traditional Dr. don't believe in it. Many of my former students had great improvements when their parents changed their diets. Looking at discipline along with that may be the key. What may work for one child unfortunately may not work for another. Best wishes on your journey.

2 moms found this helpful

Our little girl just turned 5 and is more challenging than ever before. She also has seasonal allergies and food allergies. ADHD type behavior have been linked with artificial colors & flavorings. Aspartame can do a number on children also. Some things to try may be:

1. Omega 3 supplement - 1000mg/day. Get some fish oil into your son's diet. There are several studies showing how increasing Omega 3's drastically help ADHD type behavior. Check Dr. Andrew Weil's site for information.

2. Eliminate all artificial colors, flavorings and artificial sweetners (especially Aspartame) and high fructose products. Remember to check multi-vits if taking. Kids toothpaste is another bad culprit. Toms of Main does a good yummy strawberry.

3. Get a good multi vit/mineral - You may need to go to Sunflower market, New Life, or GNC and ask the sales clerks to help you find a supplement without artificial colorings, flavorings or fake sweetners. One that we've used with our daughter is VegLife's Vegan Kids Multiple. http://www.nutraceutical.com

4. Low Sugar diet - If he's going to have something that's high sugar like a flavored yogurt have him eat protein or fat with it. The food combining helps to slow down the absorption of sugar. Dilute all juice and limit to 4oz. per day. If you choose to give him a soda, try buying Jones soda which uses cane sugar instead of high fructose. Better yet, get plain club soda or sparkling mineral water and combine it with natural fruit juice.

5. Eggs are a great before bed food. Easy to digest food, good protein & tryptophane to sustain him longer. Or almond butter on whole grain bread is another good pre-bed snack.

6. Cut WAY down on the TV and Computer time, especially close to bedtime. Too much stimulation before bed is a sure way to have a bad night's sleep.

If things don't get any better by trying these things, make an appointment with Dr. Sandy Newmark. http://www.doctornewmark.com/
If anyone can help a parent get their child to a healthier place, physically and emotionally, it's Dr. Newmark. He is covered by some insurance.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi M., this must be really hard. My child had amazing meltdowns as a small child. She is now 15 without a melt down in sight. We put her on her bed and left her alone to finish without giving her any additonal attention to feed the fit. Neighbors would come to our house to see if everything was alright because she could scream so long and so loud. Her daycare (I was a working mom) and I worked it out so if she had a "fit" there, she could work it out in the sound proof office so the other kids and teachers weren't affects. There was one other little girl with the same behaviors. After she started school, she was still a very stubborn and opinionated child and required a lot of processing time. She had no food allergies that we know of, but got skin rashes and a bedwetting problem. The best parenting resource I used was a book called Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka (Paperback - April 1, 1998).

Also, lots of kids are allegic to food coloring, really. Avoid red and just notice behaviors after he eats anything "bright."

One more thing: parenting takes years. Love, listen, disciline.

1 mom found this helpful

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