High BG or just a 3 year olds behavior... how much does BG affect behavior?

Recently I have been having issues with my 3 year old daughter’s behavior.  She is having fits, taking toys from her siblings and saying very mean things to everyone.  I find myself confused and not knowing how to handle these tantrums.  I know she needs consequences for her actions but I wonder if her BG levels are affecting her behavior as well. For example this morning she had a fit about wanting her Easter basket when I told her she could have one jelly bean.  I was giving her a jelly bean because she was behaving so nicely with her younger sister but she wanted her whole Easter basket.  I stuck to my guns and told her "no she can have one jelly bean and not her Easter basket".  She already had her morning snack and her BG has been high for a few days.  She started yelling and having a tantrum, she got herself so worked up that I thought she was going to be sick.  I decided to take her BG and it was 29mmol (if your American you must X by 18 to convert).  This has happen many times when she is throwing a fit or being mean to others her BG numbers are high. 

So I guess I'm trying to figure out how much BG levels affect people’s mood and therefore their behavior?  How do you feel when you have low or high BG levels?  What have other parents noticed when their child's BG has been low or high?  If I can better understand that, maybe I can stop the tantrums before they start!

I have a 4 yr old who acts the same way.  Sometimes she has a high BG, so I usually check her when she is throwing a fit.  Most time she is in target and just being a 4 yr old.

I have heard from some adults with T1 that highs and lows do make you crabby.

Dear Nicole,


I'm a bit older than your daughter, but I have noticed that, whether my blood sugar level is high or low, it does have an effect on my mood.  This may well account for some of your daughter's behaviour though maybe not all of it.  I can well remember my own children at that age, behaving in pretty much the same way ... and I'm witnessing it now with two of my nieces.


You may find yourself having to explain to some of our American cousins what you mean when you say your baby was having fits ... and some of our professionally qualified English folk too.  (It loses something in translation as having a fit generally means that the person is having a seizure.  This can, of course, also happen, but it's usually when blood sugar levels have dropped really low.)


I must admit, Nicole, that what concerns me more with your daughter is when you mentioned that her blood sugar level had reached 29 mmol/l (that's 522 mg/dL for our American cousins).  As I'm sure you're already aware, this is very very high, and needs remedial action to be taken.  Have you been advised by your diabetes team as to what action you should be taking when things get this bad?


There's little doubt that ketones would be present when blood sugar levels have reached this high.  Have your diabetes team told you how to test for these, and given a ratio of a correction bolus of insulin to give?  If they haven't, I recommend you ask specifically about this.


If you already know what to do, I apologise, and hope you can forgive me poking my nose in.


I wish you both the very best of luck in overcoming this little setback, and hope you both do very well in the future.


Lots of Love and Light.



x x x x

 x x x


P.S. Please don't be offended, or alarmed, at the "x's".  It's merely a logo, of sorts, that I've used for some 30-odd years now.

The higher my number is, and even the lower my number is(anything under 5), the worse my mood is. It has a huge effect, sometimes even being at 12 will make me the bitchest, worst person to be around, even if I was otherwise having a good day and had been really nice only minutes before.

For kids with diabetes, it's harder to tell if they are just acting their age or it is to due to their levels. The best thing you can do, is test when she is getting like that to make sure she doesn't need some insulin or even possibly some food. My mom always struggled with whether I was low or high, or just being stubborn when I threw fits or snapped at her or would burst into tears when I didn't get what I wanted. There isn't much you can do but test to make sure it's not her diabetes, as there's no easier way to tell.

Since your daughter has been running high for a few days, I would take to your diabetic team as suggested above, as she may need an adjustment in doses for the time being. The longer her levels are more in range, the better she'll feel and she'll likely not throw as many fits(even when not due to her level). I know that for the periods of time I was not all over the chart as a kid, my mom had a lot easier time with me because my body was not under stress which caused me to feel sick and effected my mood greatly even when my level was normal.

Thank you for your comments.  I just wanted to assure everyone that we are in constant contact with Cara's doctors at her diabetic clinic.  We have weekly appointments with them and on the phone when every we are having issues.

I am 13 and when i have a high bg i tend to get mad or hyper so it might just be the same with your daughter. You might want to check her bg when she is being like hat to see.

I think it may be a combination of both---but at 522, I think it is more the high blood sugars.  I get really annoyed and mean past 350, and that's just not me.  I can't even notice what I'm doing when I'm that high.  Then, coming down from those highs, I usually feel even sicker and become more frustrated.

Good luck!

Hi Nicole,

My five year old get very upset when her bs are high...  She is a very laid back even tempered child but when her bs are high she is like a different kid...  She get so upset that there is nothing i could do to calm her down...  High bs definately effects moods... 

If your daugthers bs are that high she needs her insulin regiment changed....  Do you fax in her numbers to her endo? 

How long has your daughter been diagnosed?  My daughther was diagnosed in sept 2008...

Hope that she feels better...

Regards- Debbie 

My daughter is a bit older, but when she was this age we wondered the same thing. So we would always test first prior to any discipline as we figured some of it could be related to bg because I'm sure they don't feel well when there's numbers are off. Anyway, we found that many times bg was off (high/low) and occasionally it was great and there was still behavior so we always told her to try to act her best even when she's not feeling well she still needs to act appropriately.  We would even say, I know you aren't feeling well right now, but you still need to try to act appropriate.  We still use that today. She is now really in tune with her bg.  Not sure if one correlates with the other, but it really helps us. My daughter would lay on the floor in a tantrum (which she never did before) especially on a LOW. She'll be very whiny, complainy when high, begging for more food, but it's because she's already high.  We encourage lots of no carb liquids when she's high as it may fill her up a bit while helping eliminate sugars from her body. Hope it offers some help.

Hello Debbie

Cara was diagnosed Feb 13 2009.  We have weekly appointments with the diabetic clinic and we are on the phone with them all the time.  We are just trying to figure out the right amount of insulin for Cara. 

Thank you so much for your comments.

my son was diagnosed right after his third birthday.  We quickly learned to check bg first then determine whether he needed insulin, food or a timeout!  When she get a little older  - my guy is 6 now - you can teach them to learn to ask politely to check sugars if they do not feel well - not throw a fit.  Give her time and the benefit of the doubt now.

HI - I am new to this group and have a 5 year old boy that was diagnosed in June of 2007.  I have seen first hand the tantrums and changes with his personality with both high BG and Low BG.  I have actually spoken to his Physician and Nurse about this same question and they did inform me Yes - High BG and Low BG will affect him in this way - however it is not ALWAYS the reasoning.  Children will be children and will often test thier parents.  I have noticed that if he does become so upset (throwing tantrums or hyperactive) I will immediately check is BG and most of the time (when he is acting up) it will be Very high or Low.  There are times when he  is just being a 5 year old and his BG is in range.

As far as keotones - My son has had a BG has high as 464 and no ketones and been as low as 120 and had them.  So just because the BG is high it does not mean there will be keotones.  The rule of thumb for me is if my sons BG is 240 or higher I check for ketones and take the proper steps that my Physicain has instructed me to do.  I dont understand Ketones either when he has been high and I would expect him to have them - he doesnt.  So if I thnk for one minute he might have them or if he is 240 or over I check.  Better safe then sorry. Oh - in addition to this I notice that the more my son throws a tantrum, his blood glucose levels drop instead of increase. 

My sons BG has really been good since we put him on the Insulin pump - they still are not perfect but has a lot more in range numbers then out of range numbers.

Hi Nicole,

My name is Katrina and I have a son that is 3 1/2 with type 1 diabetes.  He was diagnosed last July.  The behavior at this age and adding diabetes to it can make it very difficult for us as parents to determine if it is the diabetes or just them being a toddler.  Blood sugar absolutely effects their behavior but there are a few things to that.  We have experienced many situations with our son and I can share come of them with you.  First let me ask, when your daughters blood sugar is over 240, are you checking for keotones?  1- a high blood sugar in itself will cause extra hyper behavior-where a low blood sugar can do the same.  We found in many cases when our son's blood sugar was high, he also had keotones, and when keotones were present he was absolutely crazy.  Then it was a matter of not only getting his blood sugar down but getting rid of the keotones as well.


What type of medication method are you on?  Do you have the ability to do correction doses when she is high?  Does she communicate with you at all about feeling low?




We are using syringes with Cara because she is on NPH and Novorapid which can be mixed in one syringe, therefore decreasing the number of shots she needs through out the day.  So yes we are able and do give her corrections when she needs.  She has never told us yet that she feels like her blood sugar is high or low.  I just really notice it in her behavior!

Thank you to everyone who has replied, this really helps us understand Cara with what she is going through!

Three year old.... my mom said two was a breeze but three was very terrible. But then she took me off milk and only gave me soy, she forgot about this as I grew up, but it made a huge difference in my behavior as a child

So I talked with my mom about your child. She said kick out the milk and try out fortified soy- Also no cheese, try this out for two and a half weeks for it too leave her bodily systems. If her blood sugars become more stable then you'll know if she is allergic.

After you try milk -if it does not work try a gluten free diet. then eggs.

We're saying Milk first because milk is very hard for non diabetic people to digest and a lot of people are allergic these days.

As it turns out, in hindsight I was allergic to milk before I got diabetes, but my allergy got worse after I was diagnosed, I started having psychotic episodes and was put on anti depressants and anti anxiety meds. I'm off of them now that I cut milk out of my diet. My sugars are stable now (no more random +300 sugars) and my behavior and problem solving skills are normal- if not better.

Just try it, it isn't that hard, and there are lots of handy books on what to used instead of milk in your cooking.

good luck