With her children's ages spanning 22 years, LongTimeMother has 40 years experience in parenting - including home schooling and foster care.
‘Why is my child so angry?’
Some children have a right to be angry. It's not hard to see why a child who has suffered abuse, trauma or bereavement might be angry with the world and everyone in it.
But what's the answer when a child in a loving home is angry about 'nothing' and, at the same time, 'everything'? Are they simply being rude and disagreeable - or is there some hidden trauma that you, the parent, remain unaware of?
Anger Management Without Therapy or Medication
The obvious options when considering anger management today revolve around therapy or medication. Nobody ever suggests food allergy testing to a parent tearing their hair out while trying to calm an angry child and restore peace in their home.
But anger, it seems, may be as red and raw a reaction to some foods as the welts that appear around the lips of other allergy sufferers.
One of my children could be charming and laughing one minute, but unhappy and sullen and seemingly furious about all kinds of unidentifiable issues the next. During her teenage years I would intervene in defence of a younger sibling who seemed to be unjustifiably persecuted. Their personalities were poles apart and, even as young adults, the two seemed to have come from different planets.
I watched the younger one reach out occasionally, more often than not to be shot down in flames. No member of our family could ever accurately predict just when or why my daughter would fly into a rage.
All those years ago there was no talk of anger management for children. I can't recall anyone suggesting anger management therapy but there was certainly the option of medication to 'pacify' angry kids.
I never considered medication to be an option. And sadly, it never crossed my mind that my child's angry outbursts could be linked to food allergies.
Answers to questions about allergy testing
Food Allergy Testing
It was only relatively recently that a doctor suggested food allergy testing in response to an unrelated medical issue. It seemed unlikely there'd be any useful outcome from such a test because she'd never had rashes or tingling lips or difficulty breathing or any of the other common symptoms associated with food allergies.
But, in the spirit of eliminating all possible contributing factors to her health dilemma, she was tested by her doctor for a plethora of food items.
The results surprised us all. She was allergic (to varying degrees) to a range of foods including some grains, dairy products, malt, yeast, honey and potatoes. At that time, I'd never heard of anyone being allergic to potatoes!
She was also allergic to a few of the common additives to prepared food products.
Less Anger And Other Positive Changes
I have enormous respect for my daughter's self discipline and determination to eliminate all the nominated foods from her diet. She adheres to the safe foods and sources fresh, organic foods whenever possible and refuses to eat any foods out of a jar or packet.
The most surprising outcome of her dietary change is her dramatic change in personality. She's no longer seething with anger. She has also commented on a subtle change in sensations in her skin, but that's not something immediately obvious to us as onlookers.
Of course I have scolded myself for not being alert enough to spot the food problems during her childhood, but she graciously observes that she didn't suspect any food allergies either - and she's been an adult responsible for her own diet for many years now.
Suddenly I can understand why she might have sat down at the dinner table with a smile on her face, but ended the evening with an angry eruption. I can see why some days were good days, but others were bad from beginning to end. Honey on toast, a cheese sandwich, and a baked potato with sour cream at various times throughout the day may well have been enough to keep her in a foul mood from start to finish.
Even Organic Foods Can Trigger Allergies
Your Child’s Diet May Be Responsible For Their Anger
I urge every parent with a child seething with inexplicable anger to request food allergy testing for as many foods as possible. I wish I had, years ago.
Please don't assume that an absence of rashes and other common reactions at mealtimes indicates the foods your child eats are as healthy as we'd like to believe.
I grow organic fruits and vegetables at my home - but it is the foods themselves that cause a bad reaction in my daughter. Even without chemicals, a plate containing one or more foods she is allergic to can trigger anger.
Let's be clear here. I am not talking about a tantrum objecting to my choice of dinner. She loves sitting down to an organic meal harvested the same day from my garden.
But a short time after enjoying the meal and complimenting me on how lovely, fresh and tasty the vegetables are, it was not uncommon for her mood to change dramatically. Almost as though a dark cloud of gloom had lowered itself over her previously smiling face.
I could never understand it when she was a child, and I still failed to understand it when she became an adult. When you serve fresh, home-grown produce to your family there is no reason to suspect your child's diet is a problem.
Nobody could be more surprised than I was when we discovered she was allergic to common foods. However, I have to stress, it was a HUGE relief to finally have some light cast on an ongoing problem. Changes in her diet seemed a relatively easy solution.
If you and your family members are suffering the effects of angry outbursts from a child, the investment in food allergy testing may be money well spent.
There are many publications about diet options for people with food allergies, but first you need to establish just which foods are causing your child grief.
Need help understanding allergies in children?
Why Is Your Child Angry?
There are many reasons why a child may demonstrate behavioral problems. Your responsibility as a parent is to do your best to identify and resolve them.
Instead of punishing a child who demonstrates an unexplained outburst, take note of the time the problem became evident, what you had been doing in the time leading up to the outburst, and any foods your child ate during that period.
Obviously a good starting point is to talk with your child and ask questions, but it might be appropriate to wait until their mood calms before trying to communicate effectively.
Don't dismiss the answer, "I don't know" as being unhelpful or uncooperative.
I regret not accepting that my daughter genuinely didn't know why she was angry. How could she be expected to know she was angry because she had eaten a potato? It never occurred to me, and I'm sure it never occurred to her.
More interesting reading about food allergies ...
- The Food Allergy Epidemic And How We Can Avoid It: My Personal Story
This hub is worth reading if you are trying to get your head around your child's allergies. I also believe it is essential reading if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy. The author raises some very interesting questions. :) LTM
Gluten Is A Common Allergy Trigger
How To Help Your Angry Child
Children have no option but to ride the tide of emotions that overwhelm them. We are the adults. They rely on us to help them.
If you cannot afford to have extensive formal allergy testing undertaken through your doctor, or if your doctor does not agree or arrange for comprehensive testing, I suggest you purchase books like the ones listed above and do your own research.
There are many reviews available for the books l have provided links for. Just scroll down the webpage and see what other parents say. You might get a few valuable hints just from the reviews, and enough feedback to decide whether or not these publications can realistically help you assess your own child's possible allergies.
Good luck. I sincerely hope, for your child's sake as well as your own, that you find a solution to managing your child's anger. Please explore the food allergy angle before turning to mental health options.
Diet changes are nowhere near as dramatic as some of the other options for anger management. Please, explore the food issues first.
Allergic To Dairy?
Since my daughter's food allergy testing I have shared my thoughts with friends in the real world, as well as here online. I am getting interesting feedback from my friends that indicates we might be onto something.
Please share this article with other parents.
This is not 'standard' advice that parents receive when seeking help to cope with angry children. However if we can accumulate enough feedback to indicate whether or not there is value in my observations, perhaps it might provide parents and their children with an unexpected solution to their anger management problems.
My daughter has had further food allergy testing using a completely different process - and again the results clearly indicate allergies.
She continues to make every effort to avoid the nominated foods and we continue to appreciate the difference. Some offending foods, however, sneak into her diet occasionally (because it is sometimes hard to identify all the ingredients used in a meal's creation when eating out) and then the effect is obvious.
I am increasingly certain that food allergy testing should be recommended for all angry children.
© 2012 LongTimeMother
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on September 10, 2013:
You are welcome, AlanB. Thanks for the feedback. Spread the word among your friends. I'm sure there are many families like yours and mine. :)
AlanB. on September 06, 2013:
We read this article months ago, followed your advice and arranged for food allergy testing. Our 8yearold boy has allergies. Since we dropped the foods from his diet he has been so much less aggressive. Thank you.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on May 23, 2013:
Thank you, Kevin Peter. It is a shame that so many families get caught up in a cycle of frustration that just might be easily resolved if an offending food is identified. :)
Kevin Peter from Global Citizen on May 22, 2013:
It's a very useful hub. When kids become angry for no reason parents get angry too. Never knew that food allergies may result in such behaviours in kids. Thanks for sharing this wonderful hub.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 25, 2013:
Thanks RTalloni. I'm hoping it becomes a topic of conversation among friends. :)
RTalloni on April 24, 2013:
So interesting and thought provoking. Lots to consider when thinking through the issues, but important. Thanks.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 10, 2013:
Hi LCDWriter. I am hoping that people have a conversation about this possibility with their friends so the word can spread.
Parents need all the help they can get. Thanks for your comment.
L C David from Florida on April 10, 2013:
This is something I have never heard of or thought about. Thanks for getting this information out there!
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 02, 2013:
Aren't we lucky we live in the day of the internet, where mothers - and fathers - can compare notes and swap hints. I hope this topic gets shared with as many people as possible. Let me know how you go with further food allergy testing please, onegreenparachute.
If your grand daughter is allergic to sweet potatoes, I wonder what else she is allergic to.
Carol from Greenwood, B.C., Canada on April 02, 2013:
This is very interesting to me. I have witnessed my Granddaughter as she has a severe reaction to sweet potatoes of all things (you wouldn't believe how many packaged products have sweet potatoes in them!) and now I'm wondering if allergies can cause depression! Thank you for pointing this out LongTime!
Voted up and shared
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on March 29, 2013:
It explains a lot, Cathy. Worth considering when there's an unexplained problem.
Ms. Immortal from NJ on March 28, 2013:
This is great information, anger and bad moods are not something us mother's would necessarily connect to a food allergy.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on March 26, 2013:
Thanks, Faith. Certainly worth bearing in mind when trying to figure why someone is angry without any identifiable reason. Particularly when they can't identify one! :)
Faith A Mullen on March 26, 2013:
So interesting! I had no idea that food allergies could affect mood. Thank you for sharing. Voted up!
vandynegl from Ohio Valley on March 21, 2013:
Thank you LongTimeMother! Yes, I plan to write more on this subject as well as post the allergy testing information (once my son gets it). I almost expect some resistance from the medical profession. It is a shame that choices we make for our health and our children's are seen as invalid.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on March 21, 2013:
Hello, vandynegl. Yes, I recall responding to your article and I am very pleased that you came over to take a look at this one. It is hard to retell the story in a little comments box. :)
I applaud you for deciding to have your son tested for food allergies. There are so many foods they can test for these days with a simple blood test.
Please let me know the outcome. As you would be aware, this is not a subject that is taught in medical school so you may encounter resistance from your doctor.
I am pleased you have an osteopath to turn to if you need her. This is really just my observation, and an attempt to help other families. I just wish somebody had mentioned this possibility to me when I was struggling to understand why my daughter behaved the way she did.
I could have saved her a lot of tears over the years. Good luck to you and your son. :)
vandynegl from Ohio Valley on March 20, 2013:
Thank you for writing this post! You responded to my recent article on "Why My Child Acts this Way." I have been a holistic nutrition consultant for about 3 years now and have been amazed at how much change can take place when certain foods are eliminated. As my son experiences anger bouts, I am tempted to recall what he might have ingested earlier on. Food colorings have no place in my house, and should not be allowed in any of our foods at all (they are banned in other countries....so frustrating). ANYWAY, although he doesn't do much dairy and wheat, I am curious to know what else he may be reacting to. I am going to bring up food allergy testing, and if my pediatrician says no, then I will go to my primary doctor (who is an osteopath) because she will do it for us! Thanks for your knowledge!
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 01, 2013:
Hi cat, my daughter is also allergic to a variety of numbers that signify colours and preservatives. That part wasn't as big a surprise to me as the potato allergy. It is interesting to see those foods caused you muscle cramps and interrupted sleep. My daughter used to complain about both those things, but only occasionally - not often enough to justify a trip to the doctor. I have no way of remembering what I served her for dinner all those years ago ... but I suspect her diet was responsible. Would have been too simple for her to just break out in a rash. Change in behaviour is a really difficult symptom to spot, particularly in a teenager. Thanks for the info.
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 01, 2013:
Latest report from my daughter is a significant increase in her ability to cope now that her changes in diet are taking effect.
Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on January 23, 2013:
This is a very interesting subject! I've known for years that potatoes/peppers/tomatoes/eggplant, members of the solanum family, can cause muscle cramps and interupt sleep. My sensitivity has worsened w/ age. We also found w/ our own daughter than artificial colors/preservatives affected her ability to concentrate and focus on school work. Added hormones in dairy brought stinky BO at an early age as well as mood swings. By process of elimination, we were able to see great improvement and now avoid the offenders.
Today's food products have so many additives, it's no wonder there are multitudes of possible reactions. Thank you for bringing this to light. I'm so glad that you had your daughter tested and that the problems are now under control. Voted UP and very useful!
LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on January 12, 2013:
I'm sure there are many children who would benefit from allergy testing. It makes such a difference when the change is made to their diet. I am pleased that you avoided the dairy. Your children obviously are much better now.
Rad Man on January 12, 2013:
I had a very similar experience about 5 years ago. My middle child who was in grade 6 was always agree, always screaming, always fighting. He suddenly got shingles, then his iron was always low. I read online that sometimes low iron is the result of dairy, so we took the whole family of dairy and he became healthy and his ager is gone. His younger brother suddenly woke up as well. His working memory went from the 6th percentile to the 55th percentile. The younger was tested for allergies and dairy was at the top of the chart. Thanks.