What about a prequel Picard? Tell the story of Picard when he gains command of the Stargazer at the young age of 28.
It could be that in his 22 years commanding the Stargazer, he hardened up and became more stoic. Very likely that he was extremely green as a Lt Cmdr, not unlike the other Lt. Cmdrs we've seen in Trek. Plus, before TNG, there's that additional 9 year gap that has never been discussed on screen (yeah, I know, books and stuff). It's very unlikely that someone's personality stays the same after 30 years of experiences.
Maybe young Picard doesn't hate kids as much as old Picard.