You may have read my post Big Lessons from a Little Boy when I published it in February. A few people did. In fact, it is the second most popular post on my blog, following closely behind The Busy Mom’s Coupon Series: No-Clip Coupon Options.
Something big happened to our family since I wrote Big Lessons from a Little Boy – we put our son Will on a gluten free diet and have been totally shocked at the positive changes we have seen in him. Since the original post about Will was pretty popular with my readers, I decided to write an update. (That is also a blogging trick to get more people to click through my site…but you didn’t hear that from me.)
Will has always been our sweet little love bug, but that side of him was often hidden behind his anger. Seriously, I had no idea how so much anger could come from such a little boy. His tantrums were usually prompted by not getting his way (not unusual in a young child, I know) or by extreme anxiety, and would last for up to an hour, several times a week. Sometimes daily. We were exhausted and at a loss as to how to help him.
We lived like this from the time he turned one until this past February, when he was five and a half. That was a very long four and a half years. Now, don’t get me wrong. Will has always had many strengths, chief among them his capacity to love and forgive. His blowups caused me to say a few too many things I regretted, simply because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I know many of you have been there, which is why I wrote Big Lessons from a Little Boy in the first place. I have always made a point to ask for his forgiveness when I knew I didn’t act in a loving way, making sure, though, that he understood how his actions factored into the situation.
One important note – Will has almost always been very well-behaved at daycare and school. Kids with emotional challenges often show them in only one kind of situation, i.e. family or school, but not both. So if you see a kid who has no behavioral issues at school but is difficult with his family, please don’t judge. It is impossible to know what is going on in a family unless you are actually part of the family.
Let’s fast forward to February 2014. Husband has Celiac Disease, and although Clara and Will have both tested negative for it, we knew that they may be susceptible to gluten intolerance. At the time, none of the medicine, physical therapy, diet changes, or chiropractic care that Clara was undergoing were helping the stomach pain that she has had since she was a toddler. We decided to put her on a trial gluten free diet. Why not try every trick up our sleeves until something works, right?
Since we were already putting Clara on the gluten free diet, we decided to try Will on it also. No amount of traditional parenting techniques were working for him, so it was worth a shot. After so many years of failed attempts to help him, I didn’t really expect the gluten free diet to work. So imagine my shock when TWO WEEKS went by with no major temper tantrums! Let me say that again. TWO WEEKS! It was like the sky opened up, angels sang, and a bright light shined down on our family. That was the most peaceful two weeks we’ve had since 2009. I am not kidding.
And then Will got a cold. His fits were once again very long and very intense. I was defeated. I thought we had found a magical solution to our problems, and then my hope disappeared as quickly as it came. I was tempted to throw in the towel and let him eat gluten again, but Husband wisely suggested that we stick with it. Maybe getting sick just pushed him over the edge and he would start acting better when he felt better. I knew I married a smart man.
Will has been gluten free for almost four months now and we are all so much happier. When he has a temper tantrum, he doesn’t threaten to hurt anyone, nothing gets broken, and he gets over it so much more quickly. Being gluten free has not solved all of his emotional challenges, but the real him – the boy who has an infinite capacity to love, share, heal, and change the world – is showing through so much more. I am so proud of him and I love him so much.
So here is the moral of the story – you know your child better than anyone. Keep fighting for him until you find the solution that works. I am telling you from experience that no situation is hopeless.
If you have had similar experiences with your own children, what tips do you have? What books, alternative parenting techniques, or medical interventions worked for your family?
Linked to Thriving Thursday