Does your child seem to cry at the drop of a hat, or seems to be irritated a lot of the time? If you blame it on personality or attitude, you may be mistaken. It could be allergies. Allergies can affect a person in many ways, from making the skin unusually sensitive to causing emotional or neurological problems.
A child who always looks irritable or constantly complains of tight or uncomfortable clothing or sting eyes could be irritated by chemicals in your washing products or in the fabric itself, such as formaldehyde (which is used in China to treat a lot of children's clothing that ends) up in our shops) or chemicals used in the production of sheets and blankets. Or your child's skin, respiratory or nervous systems could be affected by personal care product such as soaps or creams, or by fumes from school equipment.
Hidden allergies to chemicals, fumes, mold, scents, foods or food additives can cause your child to become irritable, moody, or anxious, and can also cause headaches, sensitive eyes, aggressiveness, depression, and all sorts of other distractes.
What about those children who demand the same foods, day after day? Before you give up, you might first want to rule out allergies. Food allergies can create strong food cravings or addictions, or more specifically, your child can become addicted to the endorphins that the body releases during a reaction to reduce the distress of the reaction.
One way to test for food allergies is a 5 day elimination diet. Cut out the craved or suspect food (in all its forms) from the diet for five days to completely clear the body of it. If your child is allergic to that food, you should see a significant improvement in behavior by the sixth day. If that food is then ate again, the problem behavior will return, and probably be stronger at first. This experiment can be a bit of a challenge as the child may at first become more irritable and difficult than ever. But these symptoms should disappear in a day or two. Also, you must remove even tiny or trace amounts of that food from the diet.
It sounds like a big task, but if you're fed up coping with a highly irritable or bad tempered child, the rewards are definitely worth the effort. Once the undering allergy is treated, you'll discover or re-discover the happy, sweet child within.
Sources: Marguerite Kelly, 'Coping With Irritability And Its Physical Causes,' Washington Post Nov 23, 2007; Dr. Dzung Price MD, 2007, Your Allergy Free Child.