I've posted before about my gradlings, both about how precious they are and what little shits they can be. And the little shittiest of them is Gradling number 1, who is 3 and a half. Most of the time, he's as sweet as can be. He's scary smart and he has the wildest imagination out there (he regularly gets up from nap telling me about the conversations he's been having with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and Nuby and Piper (his stuffed bunnies) and the X (the shadow of the ceiling fan) and Olivia. But when he is bad.... oh my, he's bad. He gets real aggressive, usually toward his brother, but sometimes to his little friends. He's already had one friend decide not to play with him anymore. And he has a hair-trigger emotional response: the slightest thing will set him off. Last night, it was a corn dog: first, he was upset because he couldn't have a whole leftover corn dog to himself: he would have to share it with his brother (this is how upset I am, I'm using two colons in a sentence) and then because the cut up corn dog was falling apart and he didn't want to eat falling apart corn dog. Basically, anything that upsets his routine will throw him into an emotional meltdown; anything that excites him will turn him into a Tasmanian Devil but without so much class and decorum as that.
PhMom thinks it might be a food sensitivity; recently we stopped letting him have anything with molasses, since that seemed to be the common element. This is a problem, since molasses is in some of his favorite things, like gingerbread, raisin bran and granola (it's in brown sugar, so....). I've heard gluten can be a factor as well, but the only way to find out is to take it out of his diet. But it's hard enough feeding him without adding another list of things he can't have. How am I going to know if his aggression is going away if I'm going to set him up for a tantrum at every meal by telling him, no you can't have that? Add to that the fact that Gluten-free alternatives seem to always be worse tasting and more expensive.
For myself, I'm skeptical of food/behavior links like this, but I don't really have any basis for that skepticism other than a tendency to roll my eyes at whatever sensitivity du jour is making the rounds of the internet. There are a multitude of other potential triggers, though, and I don't want to go through the hassle and chaos that another major diet change would cause if it's not even going to do any good.
I try to be consistent with discipline. We don't use corporal punishment, and we don't (and here I know I will differ in opinion from a lot of you) use rewards for good behavior or arbitrary penalties for bad behavior (this is all based on the philosophy that children should be raised to understand that good and bad decisions have their own consequences and you shouldn't be motivated primarily by external rewards and punishment). But maybe we're doing it wrong?
TL;DNR, what I'm asking is this: do any of you parents out there have any experience with food-related behavioral problems? Am I totally barking up the wrong tree here, or am I not barking enough?