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Dancingdd

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DD8 has always loved food. She was malnourished and had rickets and distended belly when we adopted her at 16 months from Ethiopia. I read a lot at the time about children that suffered from hunger before being adopted and then could never seem to get enough to eat and would hoard food under their beds etc. But these were older children aged 4 and up. DD was only 16 months. I always made sure she had a cracker in her hand those first few months. She would walk around with it. I never wanted her to feel she didn't have food.

As she grew nothing has seemed to change. She is always looking for something to eat. And she loves junk food which we rarely keep except for Oreos.
She's a bit tiny in height 5th percentile but 25th in weight. She has become conscious of her belly this past year. She does have a belly that rolls over in layers when she sits down. She also has a spare tire around the middle of her back on the sides. Honestly I think this is just her body's shape but her belly is growing faster than her height.

I tell her it means she's growing.
I tell her she's normal and everyone has their own body.
I tell her she's beautiful.

Everyone tells her how cute she is and adorable. She's so used to hearing it. She does not seem to have ANY self esteem issues. She's very confident and friendly and almost always smiling. Everyone says she's like a magnet. Very easy going and happy and kind to everyone. She has a big heart.

A few months ago I noticed she was eating chips every day. She would get them from our neighbor and her friend. I felt it wouldn't hurt to talk to her about eating healthy. I told her that while junk food tastes good it is not what the body needs to be healthy. It's fine every now and then but not every day. She used to come home from a friends house and the first thing she would tell me is what she ate because she was so excited about mini muffIns, chocolate, ice cream, etc. I would say "did you play or just eat?" So a few months ago I told her she's not allowed to eat during play dates unless it's a fruit or vegetable. She got around that one by having chocolate covered strawberries. (Sigh)

She has a big heart and when she understood meat is from an animal she said she will be a vegetarian when she grows up-but not now because it tastes too good. [smile]

So now I'm stuck not wanting to make food an issue and risk her getting an eating disorder or not saying anything and letting her get a bigger belly of which she is already unhappy with.

Things to consider- she will eat until she feels sick if she likes what she's eating but then on another day she smooths out her belly with her hands and says she wants to be skinny. We discourage both gently without making either a big deal.

She will be 9 in a few weeks. I'm wondering if I should just keep doing what I'm doing or if I should take her to a nutritionist. My husband is against it because he thinks it will make her self conscious. I want to take her to get her to eat healthier and make healthier choices not to get her to lose weight or become self conscious. I'm worried if I wait she will only get more ingrained in her poor food choices.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #2 
I honestly don't know what to tell you.  My kids eat junk on a daily basis.  As long as it's balanced with healthy meals I don't care.  You may be making something out of nothing.
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emmymom

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I really think you are making an issue where there is no issue.  Balance is the key always.  A little junk food is not going to hurt her.  It should never be the primary source of food for her in any form including snacks, but a little bit here and there is not going to cause a problem. 

Additionally, while I understand your DD's background is different than most so I understand some of your focus, I think you may be overly focused on her body and could very well be creating body/self image issues now or down the line for her.  Even some of the language you used to describe her body is troubling to me.  

Girls are under constant assault with body image standards and there is so much pressure to have a certain body type, the perfect body type.  Please do not add to this...too much concern and discussion about her body could really cause huge issues for her.  

As the mother of an 18 year old I can assure you, there is enough pressure all around her to look a certain way, she needs her mother to be a voice of reason and reassurance.
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DanceTumbleCheerMom

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Reply with quote  #4 
agree with the others.   Just continue to make healthy choices available but dont stress the issue.   besides, she is 8 let her be a kid and enjoy junk food everyonce in a while.   Our ped told us that its perfectly normal for girls to get a belly as they prepare for puberty.    


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mykidsrock

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Reply with quote  #5 
I agree with the others. Have healthy options for her at your house - do not make food your battleground. You might end up making her a "closet eater" and that is worse. Having treats is normal for kids - wanting them is normal - when we tell kids they can't do something it is natural for them to want to do it even more. Having a child that suffers from an eating disorder - I have learned all food is good food in moderation. Children need healthy food and fun food in order to grow [smile] Doctor told me that they need the calories....they actually need more than us.
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dancermom128

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Reply with quote  #6 
I can tell you that at that age my own DD ate a LOT of junk food. And she was a bit chubby, too. As she's gotten older, she eats extremely healthy. Due to diet and dance she has leaned out quite a bit and looks very different than the chubby kid with a belly she used to be. I wouldn't make an issue of it. DD's lifestyle is a choice that was made by her. I think balance is key and I also do believe strongly that as a dancer the majority of your fuel should come from healthy food. But for an 8 year old I absolutely wouldn't push it or have her see a nutritionist. Let her see you making healthy choices but also let her see you having not so healthy stuff from time to time. Don't talk about it, you'll only make her crazy. 
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dave9988

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Consult your pediatrician, see a nutritionist

I know more than one child (including a close relative) adopted while likely in a malnourished state from a poverty stricken foreign country who grew up with severe eating disorders.  Whether due to deprivation as an infant or what, I don't know, but I've know a kid younger than yours who have broken locks on cabinets to eat cookies and chips.  Not because they weren't allowed those foods, but they were only allowed "reasonable" portions in addition to "normal" food.

Not to be overly alarming, it may be nothing.  But there are two warning signs:
- Getting junk food from friends and neighbors on a regular basis.
- Eating what she likes until she feels sick.

Again, some of that is natural, and it may be nothing.  But given her background I'd be talking to a professional with some experience in these matters.  The trick is doing it without alarming her, but still in a way that she takes seriously.

Good luck.
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lovemykids

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My two cents in this, from a person that was overweight since I can remember: being overweight as a child, as a teenager, as an adult is NO fun. I missed out on many experiences that my friends were living, like getting dates, having a boy call you, go shopping for cute clothes at the mall, etc. I had many friends and a bubbly personality, much like the OP describes, but I was always "the fat friend". And people are cruel, you get called names, you get rejected, you get singled out in a negative way, you miss out on a lot. The things that I am referring may seem superficial to you now, but at that age is crucial, and it does affect you long term. Your body image matters because we do not live under a rock. You put on a bright face and pretend it doesn't phase you, but it does, and that is something that sticks with you forever and ever. So the food issue for me is very delicate. An ED is something terrible, like any mental health issue, and is something we need to be very cautious with our children. But it is important to make them aware of what being healthy is, and that has a lot to do with eating healthy. It seems -and I apologize if I am overstepping my boundaries- that your daughter does not have a healthy relationship with food. Just like I did. And the older you get and the more you have issues as a consequence of your weight and body image, the more you compensate with food. It's not a matter of eating junk vs only eating fruits and veggies. It's the relationship you have with food and how you use food to cope. And just talking to her, or restricting her doesn't work either, you do make it more of a bigger issue. I would seek the support of a nutritionist or a counselor. I wish my parents would have done that instead of pushing "diets" on me since I was very young (I tried them ALL) because the diets or the cutting out the junk or whatever, by itself, doesn't work. I ended up having weight-loss surgery in my 20s and still to this day I have been up and down and having to control what I eat. I have been blessed with kids that don't seem to have gotten the "fat" gene like all my family, but I do make a point of being mindful of what we eat, basically to know that we cannot have excess junk, and that we should eat a balanced meal.
Sorry for the long post. I hope that some of it makes sense. It is a very delicate subject to me, because I suffered and continue to suffer with that all my life and I honestly don't believe that the solution to avoid an ED is to ignore the fact that a child does not have a healthy weight, because that also is an ED. We get concerned if they don't eat but we brush it off if they eat a lot? It's the same problem, just on opposite ends.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lovemykids
My two cents in this, from a person that was overweight since I can remember: being overweight as a child, as a teenager, as an adult is NO fun. I missed out on many experiences that my friends were living, like getting dates, having a boy call you, go shopping for cute clothes at the mall, etc. I had many friends and a bubbly personality, much like the OP describes, but I was always "the fat friend". And people are cruel, you get called names, you get rejected, you get singled out in a negative way, you miss out on a lot. The things that I am referring may seem superficial to you now, but at that age is crucial, and it does affect you long term. Your body image matters because we do not live under a rock. You put on a bright face and pretend it doesn't phase you, but it does, and that is something that sticks with you forever and ever. So the food issue for me is very delicate. An ED is something terrible, like any mental health issue, and is something we need to be very cautious with our children. But it is important to make them aware of what being healthy is, and that has a lot to do with eating healthy. It seems -and I apologize if I am overstepping my boundaries- that your daughter does not have a healthy relationship with food. Just like I did. And the older you get and the more you have issues as a consequence of your weight and body image, the more you compensate with food. It's not a matter of eating junk vs only eating fruits and veggies. It's the relationship you have with food and how you use food to cope. And just talking to her, or restricting her doesn't work either, you do make it more of a bigger issue. I would seek the support of a nutritionist or a counselor. I wish my parents would have done that instead of pushing "diets" on me since I was very young (I tried them ALL) because the diets or the cutting out the junk or whatever, by itself, doesn't work. I ended up having weight-loss surgery in my 20s and still to this day I have been up and down and having to control what I eat. I have been blessed with kids that don't seem to have gotten the "fat" gene like all my family, but I do make a point of being mindful of what we eat, basically to know that we cannot have excess junk, and that we should eat a balanced meal.
Sorry for the long post. I hope that some of it makes sense. It is a very delicate subject to me, because I suffered and continue to suffer with that all my life and I honestly don't believe that the solution to avoid an ED is to ignore the fact that a child does not have a healthy weight, because that also is an ED. We get concerned if they don't eat but we brush it off if they eat a lot? It's the same problem, just on opposite ends.


But the OP didn't actually say her child has a weight problem.  She said that she was concerned that she "might be" eating too much junk.  Which seemed to be associated with her belief that eating junk every day, even if in addition to healthy meals, is somehow bad. The child is in the 25th%ile for weight.  Even with her being in the 5th for height... that doesn't necessarily make her notably overweight.  And a belly that's not flat, even one that rolls over when they sit, doesn't make a young child notably overweight either.

IDK  in my experience jumping to action when there is no problem can be just as detrimental as doing nothing when there is.  The child is 8 and enjoys eating junk when she's at her friend's house.  Maybe because she likes the taste.  Maybe because she doesn't get a lot of it at home.  If every kid who ate junk (including sometimes to the point of feeling a little ill) was carted to the nutritionist the nutritionist would be one of the busiest professionals around.  I can remember sneaking down to the kitchen in the middle of the night to raid the cookie cabinet as a kid (hiding in the dining room corner in the hopes that no one would hear me chewing) because my mom had a rule that we could only eat 3 cookies and 3 cookies only after a meal as dessert.  To this day haven't met a cookie (or something made with chocolate, or salty bad for you snack) that I didn't like.  But that doesn't mean I had some sort of eating disorder and should've seen a professional.  Although I'm sure any professional would've loved to have had another patient.... to counsel and schedule regular follow-up visits for [wink]
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Dancingdd

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Thank you for all your responses. My concern is her deprived past affecting her. Up until this year she could never get enough to drink. Always thirsty and drinking water. People told me I should have her checked for diabetes. Her regular check ups were all fine though. Last year at the age of 7 she started with bad armpit odor. 7! She uses a natural deodorant. She's also budding so I'm sure she started the whole puberty process.
My friend and husband think she has a self control issue not necessarily a food issue. This is a bit scary but I think she will be fine. She likes to follow the rules at dance and school and seems to have more emotional intelligence than either of her older brothers.
She and I are very close and cuddle a lot and talk.
I will wait and see in the next year if her food desires escalate to determine if we should bring her somewhere.
I forgot to mention that she also asks for food when she's bored. [frown] my husband and I remind her of what she just ate and tell her boredom is not a reason to eat.
My parents were very carefree raising me and mr siblings. Too much. I'm trying to find the balance of letting her grow up to become independent while also being involved and knowing what she's up to.
She is very independent!
Thanks again.
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Bonbonmama

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Reply with quote  #11 
I'm in the group suggesting that you might be making much more of this than it actually is. She's 8. 8yo lack self control, generally. If they are offered something at a friends house that they love, they're most likely going to accept it, especially if it's something being very limited at home..!
Continue to offer healthy choices but don't make a big deal out of it. She can't sneak over to a friends house and eat a bag of chips in the middle of the night, right? So what if she has a cupcake on a play date. You balance it out with healthier choices at home. I wouldn't turn into a food dictator over this, at all. Balance is key, and I'm a pretty firm believer that it is the FOCUS on food and food choices that is in many cases the base for eating disorders. YOUR focus on it is not healthy and not sending the right message to her! Step back, continue to offer healthy options, don't discuss her body (especially not in the way you are discussing it here!) other than to say she is healthy and strong or whatever.

I assume this is your only child..? We are all parents here, we are all wrapped up in our children. I mean this in the nicest way possible. The way you come across here (and hopefully only here), you seem a little TOO invested in your kid and overthinking every little detail of her life. I get that this is a forum and a spot to vent the crazy, so hopefully IRL you're a little more laid back. [smile] Try to relax a little bit, not overthink everything so much!! She's a kid. A young kid. Let her be a kid.
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Dancingdd

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Reply with quote  #12 
Bonbonmama- I am laid back IRL! I have 2 boys ages 11 and 14. She is my only girl and my only adopted child. I know it's wrong but I feel more responsibility to make sure she grows up healthy in mind and body and most of all HAPPY! I owe it to her parents that had to give her up because they were unable to feed her but loved her and tried as long as they could.
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Dancingdd

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Yes she is active. Right now she is in a dance intensive so active all day. During the year she had dance 3 hours a week. This year it will be almost double. She's miserable if not active. I'm not sure how or if she will be able to handle the extra dance hours as she has some learning disabilities and takes longer to do homework. I guess we'll see.
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lovemykids

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The main idea with my long -personal- post was just to make sure she has a healthy relationship with food. And I don't believe it is ever too early to start looking into that.
Obviously a kid is a kid and they will eat junk many many times, and that's OK. And obviously what we all aim for is balance. But if the OP is having her mom instincts that her DD's relationship with food is not optimal, that's one thing that doesn't get better by itself usually. It never hurts to ask
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Dancingdd

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Reply with quote  #15 
Lovemykids- thank you for your honesty and sharing your experience.
My kids think I am the most laid back mom and goofy. They have no clue how much I worry. That's what spouses and friends are for! [smile]
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emmymom

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Reply with quote  #16 
I think the ultimate goal is to have a healthy relationship with food and one's body.  

I really don't think referring to an 8 year old who is in the 25th percentile for her weight as having a "spare tire" is healthy for her body image.  It just screams overly focused on body image to me.  

Yes, she is in the 5th percentile for her height, but her stats do not put her overweight.  Given her 5th and 25th percentile standings, she is likely in the 50-60% BMI percentile with a BMI of less than 18.  Talk with you pediatrician, they should be able to best offer guidance and reassurance with your concerns.  They will be able to offer suggestions for keeping your DD within a healthy range.  

Yes, of course you should be encouraging healthy eating whenever possible, but understand that kids are kids and they will have times when they eat some junk food.  Again, a healthy balance is whats important in all aspects when it comes to food and healthy eating, including when talking about how her body looks.
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tendumom

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Puberty.

The body shape description remind me very much of something discussed in the American Girl book, The Care and Keeping of You. It is something dd and I read and discussed many times. Many girls will get thicker at waist before they grow. Age 8 is a typical time for that to begin. Of course, some do so later. I think my dd was more like 12 when I noticed it. That was also when dd needed deodorant daily.

Eating when bored is something I struggle with to this day! Still, all of this is worth a conversation with your pediatrician.
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tappinmom

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Reply with quote  #18 
I agree that you don't want to put any kind of pressure on her about her size.  Kids eat junk food sometimes.  The important thing is that she have a healthy relationship with food and it sounds like she is getting to place where she may not in the future.

If it would make you feel better you could talk to her pediatrician privately (without her) and see what they have to say.  I definitely wouldn't involve her in the discussions though.

ETA - DS has a ton of health issues that affect his weight up and down.  As a baby he was a pudgy one but from 3-9 he got extremely thin.  At 4 when he started school he only weighed 20 lbs.  From 9-12 he was pudgy again and then he started to thin out.  Now at almost 21 he is 6' and about 135 lbs.  We never made a big deal about his size through any of his phases but did stress eating well.  He was never self conscious of his body whether he was big or little because he knew he was eating well and we didn't focus on his body.
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disneymom2two

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dancingdd
Yes she is active. Right now she is in a dance intensive so active all day. During the year she had dance 3 hours a week. This year it will be almost double. She's miserable if not active. I'm not sure how or if she will be able to handle the extra dance hours as she has some learning disabilities and takes longer to do homework. I guess we'll see.
 
Sorry, I was switching back and forth between messageboards (this one and a nondance, parenting one that has a tendency to be very debatey) and obviously forgot which one I was on; I'm posting on a danceboard - of course, she's active.   I didn't realize which I'd posted on until just now when I was checking to see if there were any new posts on the boards.

Anyway, with kids who had traumatic pasts, it's hard to know what is typical but may be concerning of a child and what is related to their past.  Are you on any adoption boards? I'm on several messageboards for adoption from China.  They can great info resources.  I'd talk to my doctor if I was worried and then maybe ask for a referral to a psychologist with experience with kids who have been adopted in case the issue is related to her past. 
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dancedaughters

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Reply with quote  #20 
I don't know what the right answer is here, but if I were you, I'd focus on the things she should eat, rather than the things she shouldn't.  To the extent that you talk about food choices, talk about whether she had enough vegetables, protein, fruit, etc., and let go of the other stuff, at least for now.
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Suzit42

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tendumom
Puberty.

The body shape description remind me very much of something discussed in the American Girl book, The Care and Keeping of You. It is something dd and I read and discussed many times. Many girls will get thicker at waist before they grow. Age 8 is a typical time for that to begin. Of course, some do so later. I think my dd was more like 12 when I noticed it. That was also when dd needed deodorant daily.

Eating when bored is something I struggle with to this day! Still, all of this is worth a conversation with your pediatrician.


Yes, this book is really great! I recommend it to every mom I can.

I admit that I cannot give you solid advice about your DDs issues with not having food when she was so young. I would definitely get in touch with others who have adopted kids from similar situations. But I want to say God Bless You for adopting her.

My only point would be to stress balance in your DDs diet. Prohibiting junk food can back fire. Allow some without making a big deal about it. One of DDs BFFs comes from a home where she is a vegetarian and both parents are vegan. All food served is organic, gluten free, etc.. While that might be great for the parents, this girl struggles with balance when she is out of their eyesight. I admit that approx 15% of my pantry is junk. When this girl comes over, she eats as much of our junk food as she possibly can.

Your kiddo is younger but we have to teach all of our kids how to function in the real world. This world has good and bad. That applies to food, media, fashion, etc.. Balancing it all is the key.

Very best of luck to you.
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crafty1

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Reply with quote  #22 
My DD is not adopted, and I also want to say God bless you for adopting yours!

DD15 is VERY tiny for her age, and is always mistaken as being much younger than she actually is. Last week, a restaurant hostess gave her a children's menu for children under age 10, so she thought DD was 9. She once was in the 5th percentile for height. Once! Usually, she is in the negative numbers for height, but was about 25% for weight. No one would ever consider her fat. She is actually very trim.

I can always tell when she is getting ready to grow. She gets a belly. I always say she grows like a Christmas tree - out then up. It does sound like your DD is starting puberty. One of DD's dance friends got her period at the age of 9. It happens. I couldn't agree more with the other posters who mentioned the American Girl book "The Care and Keeping of Me". Please get it for your DD. You should both read it.

We have mostly healthy foods in our house, along with some junk. When DD15 wants a snack, she will usually grab something healthy. She has always been this way. She would usually ask me for yogurt or cheese. However, when she asked for something else, I usually let her have it.

Me - I'm obese, but I wasn't always. I have taken small steps to start fixing this. Sometimes I get a craving for ice cream. I ask myself if I really want ice cream, or if I just want cold and creamy. Often, it's just that I want cold and creamy, and then I will grab low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt. Same with wanting chips or pretzels. Do I want them, or do I want salty and crunchy? If it's salty and crunchy, raw carrots and celery sprinkled with kosher salt will do the trick. Sometimes, when I assess it, I really do want the ice cream or chips. If that is the case, I have them, but I limit my amount by putting some in a small bowl (as opposed to grabbing the bag of chips and eating out of it). I also have a tendency to eat when I'm bored. I try to find something else for my hands to do, or will chew gum.

Small changes for the better. Baby steps. They do work. The weight is starting to come off.

However, since your daughter does eat until she feels ill, I would talk to the pediatrician without her there. I would express all of my concerns and see what the doctor has to say.

This is a tough one. You don't want to obsess about it, but again, you don't want to ignore a possible problem. Good luck.
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Dancingdd

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Reply with quote  #23 
Thanks everyone. I will see I my library has that book. Sounds good.
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Bonbonmama

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Reply with quote  #24 
That book has been wonderful for both my Dds. They can re-read and reference whenever, not all of the information is pertinent at once. They have both gone back and checked out other sections as they have entered new phases in their development. They're 12 and almost 15.... I would HIGhLY recommend buying it!
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heartmom

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Reply with quote  #25 
They now have a sequel to the Care and Keeping of You, too. Good investment. My DD would study it, lol. 
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