Previously I’ve mentioned the whats normal behaviour-concept of normal behaviour and kids.  Our kids once behaved just like little food werewolves because of their sensitivities to some foods and additives – that used to be our normal… However, with some key strategies, our family has made the change to an additive free eating plan permanent.

Our normal used to be quite different to todays version! And it was becoming aware of this need for change – a need to create a calm and happy household that started the ball rolling.

So to start helping mothers and parents who are also stumbling through this whole parenting business, possibly with a good dose of chaos, I thought I’d elaborate a little on

What is normal behaviour?
How do I know if my child’s behaviour is normal?
How do I deal with this behaviour?!

Whilst our little cherubs are unique little beings, completely one of a kind, there are some massive similarities in kids’ behaviours too.  As parents, we often get concerned about whether our kids are doing what other kids are doing. Not comparing, just trying to find some common ground to know we’re not alone in wanting to tear our hair out some days when the kids are going beserko…!

Is a tantrum every day before breakfast the usual routine in all households?
Is it ‘normal’ to have to break up a sibling argument every afternoon?
…and then again 5 times before dinner?!

Does anyone else have dramas trying to get their kids to walk 10 metres from the kitchen to the bathroom to brush their teeth without it taking 20 minutes and several reminders (usually in an escalating voice and after removing all lego pieces that mysteriously appear in their path to distract them?!)

Is that normal??is this normal-

Despite not having a manual on child-raising, most of us know that sometimes kids do have tantrums, they do ignore us and don’t do what they’re told and siblings do fight.  However, when there seems to be no end to the temper tantrums, mood swings and hyperactivity, we usually want to know whether it’s normal or something we can change – to create a new normal.

To give you answers, I think it’s best to split this question into the following:

1.  What are the common behaviours associated with food sensitivities?
2.  Are food sensitivity symptoms different to ‘normal’ child behaviours?
3.  If they’re not different, when does it tip into the arena of food sensitivities?
(At what level or severity? and How many tantrums?)
4.   What about age differences?

Though there are a few grey areas, the answers are relatively simple.

1. What are the common behaviours associated with food sensitivities?

Let’s start with some statistics; between 55% and 75% of children with behavioural problems are sensitive to salicylates, colouring and/or preservatives in foods*.  That’s 3 in 4 kids….wow!

The behavioural problems commonly associated with food sensitivities can range from the ‘high end of the scale’ hyperactivity, lack of concentration, aggression and discipline issues associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD) and oppositional defiance, or it could simply be a screaming child who won’t do what they’re told and seems to be crying, screaming or racing around like a mad thing for no particular reason.

Here are a few of the common behaviours I notice in our children when they’re reacting to food additives:

  • Difficulty going to sleep at night – “I’m not tired yet” (despite the black rings under the eyes – another physical symptom by the way)
  • Mood swings – getting teary at the drop of a hat, over the ‘little things’
  • Argumentative – finding any excuse to have an argument with each other (or me)
  • Talking too loud or all the time
  • Unable to sit still – always running around (not necessarily being badly behaved, but more like an energizer bunny that can’t listen or sit or do what’s asked because they’re too busy moving from one thing to the next).

Do you recognise any of these behaviours in your kids?
For a full list of the possible behaviours (and physical symptoms) linked to food sensitivities, click here.

2.  Are sensitivities to food different to normal child behaviours?This is the hard one to answer.  Essentially, no – they’re not necessarily different to normal child behaviours. As mentioned before, most kids will throw a tantrum at some stage.  The difference is in the severity and quantity – ie: How full-on are their behaviours? and How often do they occur?

3.  When does it step into the arena of food sensitivities?
(At what level or severity? and How many tantrums?)

By severity, I mean how extreme are the tantrums?  For example, a child that screams a bit because she or he wants something off the shelf and can’t have it, is most likely upset with the boundaries in place and wants to test if they can be ‘shifted’ to suit her or his desires.

Most child behavioural issues in the normal sense are about them learning what is right and wrong, how far they can go, where the boundaries are, etc.  (Or maybe they’re tired, having a growth spurt and getting a few extra hormones racing around for a while or they’ve just had a bad day)

However, a child who does the all-out head banging on the floor, limbs flailing everywhere and crying until red in the face over the same ‘little thing’, is quite possibly working with more than just the normal childhood boundary testing.

As for the frequency of these behaviours, the answer is – most tantrums, angry outbursts, arguments, crazy banshee type behaviours are food sensitivities – especially if it’s associated with wanting a particular food to eat (I’ll touch on this topic more in future blogs as it opens up the door for the additives and addiction cycle).

Unfortunately though, it’s not a precise science where I can just put a number on it and say “if it’s more than two times a day, it’s the food sensitivities”!  I can however, help with some general questions to think about and suggest an exercise to measure severity and quantity.

So stay tuned for my next blog, where I’ll give you 6 questions to help work out if your normal child’s behavior is just that, or whether it’s time to create a new normal.  In the meantime, feel free to comment below or continue this conversation on facebook.  I promise not to keep you waiting too long for Part Two of Creating the New Normal!

Loren x
The Food Werewolf

*taken from research outlined on the website

PS: You may have noticed I haven’t are you happy with your normal- (1)gone into great details about the physical symptoms associated with food sensitivity and stuck to the behaviours…There’s method to my madness! I’m coming from a psychology focus – dealing with behaviours and how to fix them is kind of my thing…I recognize there are physical symptoms and they’re no less pleasant than the behaviours (I’ve seen the physical symptoms in our family and sought appropriate expert support).  Ultimately though, parents notice behavioural problems on a daily basis and it’s these thebeggingsI’m aiming to help families eliminate.  From ADHD to the ‘little things’ – behaviours can improve with the right foods.  I strongly recommend seeking the assistance of nutritionists, dieticians and any other health practitioners specializing in food sensitivity physical symptoms if that’s what you’re noticing and I very much believe in working together with like-minded practitioners to provide the greatest level of care for clients.  Holistic health, lifestyle change and strategies for creating calm receptive kids – that’s my end goal.