My 11 year old daughter is beautiful, intelligent, and happy . Emotionally she is far behind. The problem is that ,she will only eat small meals, many times reluctantly, and she needs to eat almost every 90 minutes. When the hunger starts she becomes loud, irritable, obstinate, argumentative, sensitive, verbally agressive ,hyper-active, cheeky, talks rapidly, will look for a reason to get into a fight with us and then use that as a reason not to eat. When we argue with her, she completely loses control. She will slam doors, verbally abuse us, accuse us of "not understanding why she is angry", tell us she hates us, and get into panic attacks.We had a difficult episode, where she was so upset, after a very heavy argument, that she screamed she needed water. I told her she could drink from the tab, but she insisted on mineral water, I refused and she completely "lost it", she offered me all her savings for a glass of mineral water and when that was refused she started to slam the plastic glass I had brought her against the wall, screaming she would die and that she needed that mineral water "for the last time in her life" and then she would drink from the tab. We gave it to her and then hugged her to calm her down. The thing is that the moment she eats enough, she completely calms down and is sweet again, until 90 minutes later when everything starts all over again. There are many things she does not want to eat ( meat, foods touching each other etc.), but has a very healthy diet of fruit, vegetables, yoghurt, water, almost no sweets, fruits and chicken and rice. She can eat a meal in 5 minutes, but she can also take one hour to finish a small meal she likes. She has told me her hunger starts in her head, before it gets to her stomach. We are completely exhausted from her behaviour and have tried any approach we could think of. We have given positive enforcement when eating, punishment for not eating, mutual contracts, letting her choose what she wants to eat, etc.. Her behaviour when hungry is much more under control when she is in the presence of others. We've had her tested by a doctor in Endocrinology and all came out well. Since maybe she has a chemical imbalance , together with personality clashes between her parents, and her strong personality that wants to control too, I would appreciate any advise on both fronts. She is not scared of getting punishments, even if it means weeks without tv and computer, which she loves very much. Socially she is doing ok and she has a normal love/hate relationship with her smaller sister.
I would not dismiss RockRose suggestion to have her blood sugar tested. Try is one more time. She may well be diabetic. I had a husband who also got very crazy when his blood sugar levels were low. It also affects the temperal lobe.
I certainly did not dismiss it and her answer got me to re-focus on my feeling that it has to do with the blood-sugar dropping. After reading more about it I learned that there is a type of Hypoglycemia that does not show up with lower glucose levels. I have tried for two days now to give her natural juices, or honey when her mood changes and aplle juice seemed to really help. Grape juice and honey did not have much effect. I am hopeful though that this is her problem, and not diabetes, or any other scary syndrome and that I will able to report good results. Yesterday and today were not ideal, but surely better than usual. Thank you both for your input.
Wow this is exactly the same thing that happens when my son is hungry!!! He has the exact same symptoms...we also did a 24 hour glucose test in the hospital and there were no findings of diabetes??Did you ever get any more information on what is going on with your daughter? We went to CHOP endocrinology and locally and they didnt find anything!!
Does she have the same reaction while at school, when she stays over at others' houses and/or if she's away at camp/relatives? That would be very important information to consider to rule out strong physical factors, as biology tends to be highly robust across domains. Also, has this behavior been consistent across her life span? Has there been a recent onset - within the past 2-4 years. if so, it may be partly related to the onset of puberty and associated hormonal changes. Could that account for any part of what you're seeing?
quote"she needed that mineral water "for the last time in her life" and then she would drink from the tab. We gave it to her and then hugged her to calm her down. The thing is that the moment she eats enough, she completely calms down and is sweet again, until 90 minutes later when everything starts all over again. "
I agree with the comments of the other posters regarding her sugar, it definatly sounds like this has been a big trigger... but I have an issue with the above statement because mineral water doesnt help with a sugar imbalance.. and what your describing sounds like a control issue. Mabey Im wrong,, but to I have found with my kids that giving them what they want when they were having a tantrum as babies, teaches them that this works even if its by upsetting others in the home.
In an instance like this, giving in is the worst thing you can do and a child needs to know parents are the ones in control. You daughter was having a power struggle with you, mineral water does nothing for a sugar imbalance, but a child who expects to get what she wants even if it means getting loud about it, will go into a full blown anxiety attack if its worked in the past to re-assurt her sense of control over a situation. When a parent gives into this anxiety tantrum, they reinforce that the child is right and in charge of the situation. Unfortunatly this has a rebound effect though,, the child is thankful to feel her sense of power and control back,,, but a child is ill prepaired to control themself and they need to feel safe and protected. The parent has just shown them that they accept that they cant control the child, and the child feels worse because the burden of self control is theirs alone again. Children want a parent to tell them no when they act badly..
Im sure by what your saying about how she feels better after eating that there is some sugar hypoglacemia issue going on there because I used to cry when I was hungry up till almost age 12. But what your describing is a child whos controlling your life, or atleast thats what I got out of the post.... and all children would be overwhelmed by such a heavy responsibility.
ps.... hugging a child whos throwing a tantrum (which the above example does sound like due to mineral water not having any effect on sugar) re-inforces the behavior by giving postive attention during the height of the upset emotions. And you mentioned this doesnt seem to happen as much when peers are around... as I saidd theres probably a sugar issue going on, but I think your unintentinally reinforcing the behavior with your desire to help her through the upset stage..
Wow!! the problem just sounds like my son!! He is sweet little boy, smart and kind. He cares for me and generally very happy. But when he is hungry, he is nothing but a monster. My family has diabetics and I am totally worried now. When I fed him, just after 10 mins he is going to be a happy child again and he begs 'sorry' for what he did or said.
Has any one found any further information on this? My son is 6 and this post describes him exactly unfortunately. We don't know where to start to get help. He has 2 younger siblings, who do not have the hunger issue or behavior issues and all 3 siblings have been parented their entire lives by my husband and I in the same way. We thought it was our parenting at first (and partially is no doubt,) but some thing else going on here. Any updates with any of you? Any solutions, leads, new information? Pray that every one's children are doing well :)
The post by Learner on Sept. 30, 2007 seems to answer your question. I am thinking that because she never posted back that her problem was solved?
The one difference I see between you and her is when you say her post describes your son exactly. He is a 6 year old boy not an 11 year old girl. He has much less self control at that age. So not really knowing what he is doing, its kind of hard to say if its the same or not.
We do get lots an lots an lots of posts here from parents with 6 year old boys seeking help on dealing with their behavior. If you wish to start a new post and give some specifics, we might be able to help.
I will say that many times the addition of younger children is part of the key to the behavior. Was he having these hunger problems before the latest addition?
hi, yes, he's always been this way. i'll check the answer you were talking about thank you. We also have a family history of folks not being able to absorb certain vitamins- vit b, folic acid, and vit d mainly. I believe something is happening with his body...and only when he's hungry. He loses it and no matter how much you love on him or teach/discipline, his brain is unable to reason until he gets a certain amount of sustenance. Thanks again
I went back and reread the other posts more carefully and then reread yours. If this really is food/diet related. I think that it would be worth the effort to get a complete blood test done (man, scary thing for a kid - start with a urine test first) to make sure that nothing medically is wrong. Its certainly worth talking to your pediatrician about. Best wishes. Keep us posted.
My 10-yr-old boy is the same way. His pediatrician explained that it is due to the normal body's response to hunger-- to release adrenalin (a stress hormone-- responsible for the whole "fight or flight"). In kids, especially boys, who are slim with little muscle and fat, it is common to experience an extreme response to this hormone. He assured me that he should even out as he hits puberty and puts on mass. Even with the explanation, I am constantly taken aback with just how extreme his mood swings are. If I miss the window, he doesn't recognize that he is hungry, and it is just how all the other parents describe it-- swinging from VERY combative and aggressive to downright despondent (" I hate my life! I want to die!"). Within minutes of getting food in him, he is back to his old self, smiling, making jokes. If I didn't see it, I wouldn't believe it. The trick is getting the food in them, because they're combative and refuse to do what you ask, actively trying to engage in a fight with you (that's the adrenalin!). Best defense is to head it off with a nutritious snack before it begins, but that is not always possible. If you miss the window (after school is a common time for it), stay calm and engage as little as possible with them-- remember, there is no reasoning with them and they WANT to pick a fight due to the adrenalin. I place a favorite snack or two in front of him and just get on with my chores or walk away. Usually when he can't pick a fight with me, he will nibble on the snack eventually. And once he eats even a little, he becomes more rational and finishes the snack. I make it sound easy, but I know it is not. Just the other day it took an hour and half. Mostly because I didn't follow my own advise. I have three other kids and it was a busy day of sports and activities, and my frustration got the best of me, as I let him drag me into a verbal fight. SInce he doesn't display these behaviors (aggressive or despondent) at any other times, and since it clears up so radically and quickly with food, I am rather convinced this adrenaline scenario is the case. Especially since so many other parents have talked about testing that came up negative. I do not think it is a case of control issues, and I am not really worried about the despondent behavior (although I am monitoring it closely), simply because it is not present at any other time. I figure it is the manifestation of the "flight" behavior. When he was younger, that "flight" portion seemed to manifest itself as hyper activity-- he would get all corked up and crazy, and you wouldn't be able to talk to him or get him to stop because he was so spun out of control. Hope this helps.
Ditto for my son, also 10, also been this way for 4-5 years. Puberty doesn't necessarily fix it, apparently, because his dad's the same way (has learnt to manage his eating timetable and therefore behavior at around age 45...)
It sounds like medicine hasn't got around to recognizing this syndrome yet, which is worrying because seriously these people need to learn how to manage themselves and their schools need to give them a little official consideration.
Could be one of the possible symptoms of ADD, I'm suddenly wondering?
Usually, hunger is not a major symptom of ADHD. But, it is a symptom of other things and should be checked out with a pediatrician. However, here is link to more info on ADHD. If any of this does sound possible or if you have more questions - I am also the CL on the ADHD forum here - http://www.medhelp.org/forums/ADD---ADHD/show/175 feel free to also post over there is you have questions.
The link for ADHD info is - http://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/attention-deficit-disorder-adhd-in-children.htm
I myself get extremely irritable when I am hungry. Sometimes that irritability is the first symptom. Blood sugar testing determined that I have something called "Reactive Hypoglycemia" - google it. What works for me is eating a diet much like the Zone Diet. Each meal or snack needs to have a little carb, a little good fat and a protein. This keeps my glycemic level even all day. Otherwise a big dip in it will cause that irritable feeling. Hope this helps!
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