Crabby Toddlers – Normal Kid Stuff or the Result of Trauma?

Terrible Twos. Trying Threes. For parents, crabby toddlers are an expected part of parenting.

After all, kids at that age are growing like crazy. Their bodies are rapidly changing and their minds are continually expanding as they learn to process new information.

The amount of learning and processing is so powerful that they’re operating at a genius level of growth.

So if this is normal, why are some toddlers so crabby? Why are some behaving as if they are always angry, or at the very least aggravated?

Then there are others who have minimal crabbiness and rare meltdowns. What gives? How do you “order up” a sweet toddler angel?

Let’s start by looking under the hood, so to speak, at the kiddo’s operating system — the nervous system and the brain. 

Crabby Toddlers – A Result of Trauma

If Junior experienced a traumatic pregnancy and/or birth (in utero constraint, forceps or vacuum extraction, or a C-section for example), that could have “accidentally” damaged the vagus nerve.

This is the only cranial nerve that exits the skull and ends up in the chest cavity. It is involved in heart rate and digestion among a list of other very important things that are essential to life.  

The “vagal response” is a series of unpleasant symptoms that occur when the vagus nerve is stimulated. Often, this response is triggered by certain things like stress, pain, and fear.

Symptoms of the vagal response include dizziness, nausea, ringing ears, and sweating. No wonder they are unhappy! I’d be a crabby toddler too if that’s what was going on in my little brain and body.

Consider how many times a little one falls while learning to walk. It happens all day, every day!

“Hey Mom and Dad, this learning-to-walk thing is hard work!”
Photo by Seven Shooter on Unsplash

How many times did they roll off of the bed, or bounce off of the couch?

Most injuries to the spine occur in the upper neck. There’s pain and stress going on, and no way to tell us about how they feel. Frustration sets in, and we see a crabby toddler.

How is a kiddo to tell you that they need to see a chiropractor to clear things up from the trauma of toddling?

They certainly don’t do it in words we easily understand. It may be in their behavior if we know what to look for:

  • Crabbiness.
  • Irritability.
  • Inability to be soothed or comforted.

These could be signs that their nervous system is out of balance. They don’t have the words, so they are showing us through their actions. Their nervous systems are overloaded and they need our help.

Dr. Bruce Lipton, American developmental biologist, stated the following:

“The function of the nervous system is to perceive the environment and coordinate the behavior of all other cells.”

That is a lot of work for a little one’s system!

The cool thing is that this is part of the human design. If something has caused a problem with perception of the external world via the nervous system, the brain may respond with a behavior that is not easy to be around.

The pain and distress is acted out. And the rest of us get to witness the crabby toddler meltdown in Aisle 5 at the grocery store. Or get to experience it on a very, very long bus, train or airplane trip.

Every parent’s proud public moment, right? The good news is that it’s not your fault or specifically a result of your parenting methods. The even better news is that there is something you can do.

How to Help Your Child & Family

With today’s advancement of technology, pediatric chiropractors are able to do a simple scan of a child’s nervous system to see if that may be driving the grumpy behavior.

If there is an imbalance, using chiropractic treatment to help the nervous system regain its balance will not only get a crabby toddler laughing and joyful again, but it will decrease the stress of the entire family! 

An additional protocol that is now available is the Brain Blossom Program™ program. Call our office to learn more about this 4 pillar program to help your child overcome learning, behavioral, socialization and developmental challenges.

The Brain Blossom Program™ is an online educational platform developed from the very successful FOCUS Program, which has been helping individuals with Neuro-Deflective Disorders™ since 2009.

Dr. Mikell Parsons, DC, is trained and certified by the FOCUS Academy, and continues to receive support and education as a member of FOCUS Elite Access. She offers the Brain Blossom Program ™ in the Natural Path Health Center of Fresno office. Call to schedule an appointment for your child at 559-447-1404.



Title photo by Fernanda Greppe on Unsplash

Medical Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and has been compiled from years of practice, study and experience by Mikell Suzanne Parsons, DC. This information is NOT intended to be used as a substitute for the advice from your physician or any other health care provider, or any information contained in or on any product label or packaging. Do not use information in this article for diagnosing or treating any health problem or disease. Always speak to your health care provider before taking any nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement. If you have or suspect that you have a health problem including COVID-19, contact your health care provider immediately. Do not ignore seeking health care advice or delay seeking care because of something that you have read in this article. Information provided in this article or on this website DOES NOT create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Mikell Suzanne Parsons, DC. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Dr. Mikell Parsons