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3 year old son violent/aggressive
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3 year old son violent/aggressive

My 3 year old sold is very violent/aggressive--sometimes for no apparent reason. I've tried just about everything. I've taken Red 40 out of his diet as I heard that may cause behavior problems. I don't want him to go to school in 2 years without clearing this up. He bites, scratches, screams and acts out when he doesn't get his way. This has been going on for about a year. I am at my wits end. He can also be very lovable. One minute he's fine and the next, he's throwing a fit or running away from me. He has no fear of getting hurt or taken away. When I yell stop, it means nothing to him. I can't reason with him--nothing seems to bother him. Any suggestions?
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You are correct in wanting to get a handle on this, instead of waiting it out. If there is a family history of Mood Disorder, particularly Bipolar Disorder, such symptoms can be typical of such a condition. However, they can also typify children who display normal spectrum (i.e., without any organized mental or emotional disorder) behavior problems. Whatever the case, the behaviors require systematic management, and consultation with a mental health professional can help. Here are a couple of reading suggestions: Lynn Clark's SOS: Help for Parents; Ross Greene's The Explosive Child.
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My son was this same way when he was between 4 & 5 years old.  Doctors wanted to put him on lithium or depakote but I refused due his age and the possibility of organ damage.  If he needs it later in life then we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  

Behavior like this can be a symptom of an essential fatty acid deficiency.  I started my son on Efalex in May 1999 and within two weeks his rages, tantrums, and out of control behavior stopped.  He has been taking Efalex ever since.  I have stopped it a few times to see what would happen and the tantrums and out of control behavior returned. The key seems to be getting a balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids with DHA playing a critical role in improving behavior.  Other symptoms of an EFA deficiency are dry itchy skin, eczema and psoriasis, dyslexia, dyspraxia, vision problems at an early age, excessive thirst, asthma and allergies and behavior problems.  My son had nearly all of these symptoms except the psoriasis.  

Try reading "The LCP Solution" by Jacqueline Stordy PhD and Malcolm Nicholl.  Another good book is "The Omega-3 Connecton" by Andrew Stoll.

Omega-3 fatty acids in psychiatry: a review.

Freeman MP.

University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Biological Psychiatry Program, OH 45267-0559, USA.

Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain, polyunsaturated fatty acids found in plant and marine sources. Unlike saturated fats, which have been shown to have negative health consequences, omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that have been associated with many health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids may prove to be efficacious in a number of psychiatric disorders. Mood disorders have been associated with abnormalities in fatty acid composition. Several lines of evidence suggest that diminished omega-3 fatty acid concentrations are associated with mood disorders. Clinical data are not yet available regarding omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of major depression. However, one double-blind treatment trial has been conducted in bipolar disorder. Also, substantial evidence does exist supporting a potential role of omega-3 fatty acids in schizophrenia, although treatment data are needed. A case has been reported in which a patient with schizophrenia was successfully treated with omega-3 fatty acids. Controlled studies are necessary to explore the potential treatment of schizophrenia with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids may also be helpful in the treatment of dementia. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids may prove to be a safe and efficacious treatment for psychiatric disorders in pregnancy and in breastfeeding


Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Burgess JR, Stevens L, Zhang W, Peck L.

Department of Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1264, USA. ***@****

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the diagnosis used to describe children who are inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive. ADHD is a widespread condition that is of public health concern. In most children with ADHD the cause is unknown, but is thought to be biological and multifactorial. Several previous studies indicated that some physical symptoms reported in ADHD are similar to symptoms observed in essential fatty acid (EFA) deficiency in animals and humans deprived of EFAs. We reported previously that a subgroup of ADHD subjects reporting many symptoms indicative of EFA deficiency (L-ADHD) had significantly lower proportions of plasma arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid than did ADHD subjects with few such symptoms or control subjects. In another study using contrast analysis of the plasma polar lipid data, subjects with lower compositions of total n-3 fatty acids had significantly more behavioral problems, temper tantrums, and learning, health, and sleep problems than did those with high proportions of n-3 fatty acids. The reasons for the lower proportions of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) in these children are not clear; however, factors involving fatty acid intake, conversion of EFAs to LCPUFA products, and enhanced metabolism are discussed. The relation between LCPUFA status and the behavior problems that the children exhibited is also unclear. We are currently testing this relation in a double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention in a population of children with clinically diagnosed ADHD who exhibit symptoms of EFA deficiency.

Most kids with ADHD and behavior disorders are deficient in magnesium, B-complex, zinc and calcium.  My son is 8 and is 60 lbs and takes 400 mg magnesium, 25 mg zinc, 50 mg B-complex and 600 mg calcium + D per day as well as Efalex.  

My son reacts to dyes also;  we have eliminated everything we can that has artificial dyes - Kool-Aid, Jello, most candy, and I use no preprocessed foods and cook from scratch. Limit sodas, jjunk food (use raw veggies and fruit as snacks as much as ppossible),juices (use only 100% fruit juice as a lot of juices have corn syrup and artificial dyes) and have him drink lots of water.  Whatever he craves constantly (dairy, sugar, wheat, etc) eliminate it from his diet for at least two weeks to see if you get an improvement.  My son wanted yogurt and cheese constantly and I gave it to him thinking it was OK since diary products are good. HA! He now gets minimal lactose-free milk and no cheese, yogurt etc. as this was part of his problem also. A good book about diet and behavior is "Special Diets for Special Kids" by Lisa Lewis.

There is a good discussion about Omega-3 fatty acids on the ADHD board at braintalk.org, and also some good information about EFAs and diet changes on the Natural Treatments Board at conductdisorders.com.


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You did not mention whether your son sleeps good at night.  If he doesn't, this may be one of the problems.  Without a good nights rest he may be more apt to be aggressive.  Talk to your doctor and see if she is willing to try some type of meds..if you are agreeable. Not sleeping is also an issue with early onset bipolar disorder. Go on the internet and pull up early onset bipolar disorder and see if you recognize any of these things in your son.  Also investigate whether anyone on either side of the family has been dx with bipolar disorder.  Do you have relatives who may fit some of the characteristics?  If any of these conditions exist you may want to get an appt. with a good child psychiatrists just so you can start documenting his behavior.  I wish I had started this young with my son who is ADHD and bipolar.  I have the family members who were never dx but they sure do fit the bill.  I think this is what took us so long to finally dx.  There are a number of other things you can investigate.  Does your son hear..is his language understandable?
If you feel any of these things are a problem, have an audiologists check his hearing and have a speech eval if warrented. Does your son have alot of colds, sinus infections?  Sometimes these things can be frustrating for a child.  Allergies can cause problems, so you may want to look at that.  A developmental pediatrician should be able to pull all this together for you and this maybe where you should start.  Good luck and it's wonderful that you are concerned about you son and his behavior.
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in reguards to your son don't feel left out. My son is 3 almost 4 and has bi poler disorder he has been to burrel behavioral health when he was 2 years old for ramming his head into the wall in fits of anger then later it progressed into even more when my son was 3 years of age i took him to a therapist he diagnosed him as bi poler disorder , or depression. i then got refered to a phyciatrist. he told me he was bi poler. my son goes through rapid mood changes 1 min hes happy loving huggable and the next min he is telling me he hates me. he is on meds now. he takes depakote sprinkles 125 mg 2xs a day and respridal .25 mg 2xs a day it has totally changed his mood changes and he is doing well on them. check your family back round and make sure there is no behavioral disorders in the family. my ex has explosive disorder and my mom is a manic depressive it runs in the family. i would definitely take him to a special doctor and get him checked. believe me it gets better :)
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this is a exact discription of my son he bites and attacks and doesn't respond too anything when he is this mood but then in the next moment he can be the most loving responisible 3 year old I have met
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