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Old 17.09.2012, 11:23
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What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

I'm looking for ideas on how to help my daughter. I think we've tried nearly everything, but we still have a very angry little girl and things just keep going downhill.
She's 8 and the second of four girls. She was always so happy as a little kid and we just can't figure out what's going on with her. She's repeating the second grade this year due to the fact that she's basically given up. Over the past couple years we had numerous meetings with her teacher and a school psychologist and decided this would be best and relieve her of some stress.
I feel like the school system as it is just doesn't work for her. She has always been very imaginative, creative and has an incredible amount of patience, but only when it comes to something that she wants to do. She lives in her own little dream world and can't deal with the fact that once you start school you pretty much need to conform.

She has a hard time with other kids and never really had any friends and is always being left out at school. I think it's because most kids can't quite follow her line of thinking.

Despite holding on to this fantasy world she lives in, she really is suffering. She realises more and more that she doesn't fit in. We have her involved in extracurricular activities that she enjoys, but it doesn't seem like it's enough to make up for the unhappiness she's experiencing.

She has outbursts of rage at home, set off by the slightest thing. She'll destroy things, attack her father, one of her sisters and occasionally me.
We've taken her a few times to a kinesiologist, hoping to help her deal with some of her feelings, but it doesn't appear to be helping at all.

I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced anything like this with their children. How do you cope as a parent? How do you support your child? What do you need to do to change how things are? Or if you were like this as a child, is there any hope? Do things eventually get better?

Thank-you.
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Old 17.09.2012, 11:32
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

I feel sorry for your little one. I was a bit of a misfit in my school, too. Always in a dream world, not really up to speed with the latest music or fashion and dressed from a different era by my mum. I had one or two friends who were lovely but no proper best friends (I think the term is BFF these days ) until I was in high school and I dragged myself into the current vibe. Even then I was a bit awkward (tallest girl in class, skinny with big glasses - shocking!).

It does get better with age as you learn how people tick and now, to be honest, I think it helped me become more understanding, empathetic and tolerant of people who are "different" and non-conformist.

It sounds like you are just as stressed as your 8 year old which won't help her. Maybe stop trying so hard to get her to fit in. Also, perhaps the psychologists and other "specialists" are freaking her out?

I'm sure she'll find her path as she gets older.
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Old 17.09.2012, 11:36
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

I was a bit like Sandgrounder as a kid, never really fitted in even through High School. I found my outlet through sport which was the one thing I was good at. As your daughter is creative and imaginative have you tried to encourage her to write stories or paint? Something that could be her own outlet and is all hers.
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Old 17.09.2012, 11:39
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

For starters (if applicable) cut out sugary drinks (particularly ice tea), similarly any drinks with artificial sweeteners - try to give natural drinks: fruit juice, milk, water. Also cut back on sweets, especially those with artificial flavourings and colourings (E's). Fruits (natural sugars) are a good alternative.

Too much sugar and artificial additives can really have a detrimental effect on young children and contribute (or cause) extreme mood swings, especially if some people have a fast metabolism.

Physical activities are good for channelling energy, especially team sports to help bonding and friendships.

Finally, you may also have to consider medical advice, and possibly a psychological analysis, as there could be an underlying condition.
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Old 17.09.2012, 11:41
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

Seems like one of the typical candidates for Rudolf Steiner school.
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Old 17.09.2012, 11:44
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

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Seems like one of the typical candidates for Rudolf Steiner school.
Much as I am a non-fan of Steiner or Montessori systems, I think you might have a point here. Perhaps the OP could look into different methods of education for her. As someone pointed out in an earlier thread, the state system is not a one-size-fits-all system so maybe it doesn't suit this little girl.
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Old 17.09.2012, 11:50
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

The state systems fits the majority of kids, but not all. You might consider home schooling with the help of tutors.

If the change was sudden, try to find out if something occured around the time of the change.
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Old 17.09.2012, 11:53
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

This is sad. I can only offer what happened in our house, with my little grandson. He had to be fairly responsible for his 6mth old sister, with little time for himself actually. (another story for another time) A year after being here, he began to hate going to Kindergarten, had no friends, was battling with the language, and felt left out of all social activity. A "stranger" in the land. He would get angry and aggressive.

I worked out that the only way for him to help himself was to "help others", so began with simple things like encouraging him in collecting stuff to take to school (the recycle stuff they use to make things with) - (attempting to encourage ideas of creativity? and a feeling that he was a part of the organisation). Taking the time to be available at all the school functions, no matter how mundane or boring. Being intensely involved with any project he showed interest in.

Lots of agreement in discussions, (no negativity), giving him time to allow him to voice his feelings, without showing any judgement, just agreeing and asking questions to his dubious viewpoints, allowing him to explore his own anger.

In time, he seemed to ease himself into the culture, and over time his anger dissipated.

That is all I can offer, from a granny point of view. I`m pretty sure there are many EF members here who will have other better ideas for you.

But something I`ve noticed with kids is that they mostly all seem to have times when they are "angry with the world" - this is a sort of "internalising" of what they have learned so far, and they are in the the process of assimilation - they want to "form their own opinions" and at the same time are learning that they need to conform - and this appears as aggression, which it not really is. It`s more a form of individuality - showing a strong personality. They need lots of understanding, acceptance, gentle guidance, and sympathy for their feelings.

Hope that makes sense somehow?
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Old 17.09.2012, 11:57
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

Hugs, I can read a lot of thoughts and worries from your post..

First of all, you should relax. When you do, your child will too. It seems that clinically, you have been there, a lot, took her places, inquired, broke your head over this, exposed her to check ups, analysis. I wonder if some of that has imprinted on her, a bit. She must figure out, herself, she might be a tad different. Maybe you should forget it, for a while.

Kids are different. I work with those who don't seem to fit in, have never really fit in anything myself and have a pretty unique child myself. Normality does not exist. Just expectations and assumptions, and with those we really aren't flexible with, coz we are lazy to think. System is the same. It resists, it molds people within parameters, yet, reality is not like this. Reality is made out of children like yours. And the system really is loosening up.

If you want to read up on stuff, get "raising your spirited child" by Kurcinka. It's not always about resisting, defiant kids, but also inward thinkers who seem to be pained by limiting mainstream, etc.

First, I can have coffee with you, while kids play, next time I am in ZH. You aren't alone in this. Your kid most probably has some unique qualities, that will make her perform in fields that are not yet important at that age. To make her comfortable with expectations now, it's the most important she has somebody she trusts to talk to. Communication is the major thing. Don't let her hurt, don't point out there is something she should be doing and she is not. Point out things she might want to try, new stuff. I also think, she might totally given up her responsibility into your hands coz she knows how mush this all matters to you. Let her be, point out on examples how others deal with responsibilities.

Year behind in my experience has proven benefitial to all kids I have dealt with. I think you might want to forget school for a min, just to come back to it laters.

Have moments with her, read to her, make her read to you and perform. Cook, take care of the clean up, help with groceries, car cleaning, etc. Have her perform in other things than school, for a few months. And praise her, every little thing she does on her own. Praise her to others, too. Point out what you do, her dad, that is taken automatically, coz kids don't see it. House chores good, at 8 I would expect her to be doing 2-3 light things at home, for everyone, every day. Use this as an opportunity for her to succeed and let her know how well she is doing. She needs to help. Have her manage her own pocket cash. Let her prep her own clothes for school, etc. Don't do stuff for her, she needs her little tasks and she needs to do them well, on her own. Enroll her in some fun clubs, scouting or so, team sports are good, where she has her role others will appreciate. Let her breethe, and take her own life into her own hands, while you supervise and let her know you will always be there for her, but decisions are hers to take.

Incorporate wider family, grandparents, as a network, to be present for her and encourage her own responsibility. She can write letters or do art work for them, bake cookies,etc. She is also responsible for her family, siblings, etc. Talking of jobs is good, careers, how people prepare and why. An 8 yr old will shut off, if all she hears, all the time, is "school is important, one day you will get it". Show her laters, when she reacts to stuff, differents job places, feed her info little by little, friends, family, what they do, how they get ready for going to work, how tasks and labor are distributed..Have her communicate nonverbally, paint, draw, play with material, go different places, to see what strikes her fancy, what she could be good at and how is she going to achieve. Help her with time management. Skills are one thing, but not knowing how to distribute one's force and manage time is a killer.

Then, when she stabilizes, come slowly back to school. She needs to learn methodologically first, how things work, how we function in life and society, then she will be able to apply it to herself and school work.

Just my experience, might work, but it's a long term project. I just know she will be fine coz she has an invested parent (and because the middle kids are just awesome )

Let us know how you are coping. Offload here, not at home. XO
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Old 17.09.2012, 12:12
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

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For starters (if applicable) cut out sugary drinks (particularly ice tea), similarly any drinks with artificial sweeteners - try to give natural drinks: fruit juice, milk, water. Also cut back on sweets, especially those with artificial flavourings and colourings (E's). Fruits (natural sugars) are a good alternative.

Too much sugar and artificial additives can really have a detrimental effect on young children and contribute (or cause) extreme mood swings, especially if some people have a fast metabolism.

Physical activities are good for channelling energy, especially team sports to help bonding and friendships.

.
That is also very important! I agree with Timow on this. The iced-tea story! And packaged "fix-fertig" foods and snacks.

I`ve seen a young person here who`s had all sorts of medical intervention for his "problems" - his anger, non-concentration, memory span, lack of energy, apathy, etc etc ........ and all it resulted in was over-medication! Over the years I`ve watched his doting (hard-working)mother providing all the "luxuries" to his diet - fruity yogurts (which is not real yogurt), crisps, iced teas, packaged breakfast cereals, smoked meats/sausages, instant microwave meals ......and he is given those Energy Drinks to give him "energy" ......... but nothing seems to "work"!

More money has been spent on his medication and special schools than on his food. Fresh fruit and vegetables, freshly prepared seem to be out of the question in the household?

In Kindergarten all those "non-healthy" items are banned (a training regime for the parents? As soon as kids reach normal school age they seem to now feel they have deserved to have these items in their daily menu?

Most school-kids these days, here, seem to be on some sort of "high" when leaving school - an un-natural high - screaming, screeching, jumping, throwing their bodies around, laughing hysterically. So bad, it is impossible for the public to be in a train carriage with a crowd of school-children - the noise is beyond terrible.

(It`s in the food and drink, I`m telling you)
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Old 17.09.2012, 12:13
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

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Seems like one of the typical candidates for Rudolf Steiner school.
My kids were all in a democratic school back home, which is close in it's approach to Steiner's and the Montessori system.
This place has done miracles with kids that did not find themselves in the public school system (and also did grate things to most of the children in school, who could easily fit in the regular school).
I remember my first visit impression when considering to have my children there: I saw real happy children, supporting, curious, motivated.
I don't think this is always the answer, but maybe you should consider such a change.
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Old 17.09.2012, 12:14
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

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Kids are different. I work with those who don't seem to fit in, have never really fit in anything myself and have a pretty unique child myself.
To be fair I don't know any parent that says "I have an average-run-of-the-mill-nothing-special child". Most parents I know (and grandparents, for that matter) will tell you, or at least infer that "I have a very unique and talented child".




I think in the OP's case, this isn't the issue, she is trying to explore ways to "normalise" her a bit further whilst not stomping on her quirky personality. It seems it has been made official by the school and/or doctor that she is sufficiently unique enough to cause concern in the main stream of things and I think the OP needs some suggestions of how to work with this.

I also have a "unique" child (super-talented and heading for Harvard at age 8, honest, guv! ) but he fits in with school same as his friends and doesn't give me any cause for concern in that department but I can appreciate how worrying it must be if the uniqueness works against the system to such a degree.
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Old 17.09.2012, 12:29
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

The great thing about the school system here is the fact kids change teachers from one year to another, max 2 yr. It can make a big difference.
She might also do well being moved to a paralel class, but I wouldn't suck in seeming inflexibilty of a child, putting them into a private school or a school with different approach.

It seems to me the child needs to be equipped with coping skills and strategies, which should be entirely possible in the regular school system, instead of moving her to another school system.

But that's just me, working in a public insitution for students who don't fit in, I can see how a period of a few difficult years or months can be super efficiently replaced by a big success that can come withing a few weeks.

And, I appreciated how flexible the system was here, my kiddo's class teacher, the entire team and parascolaire. It was super important to trust them, share with them, ask them for advice, without panicking but keeping my kiddo out of the equasion when trying to figure out a strategy. They are too young to worry. The teachers and afterschool recess also helped with better integration, organized meetings for parents and kids, we get bday invite for every single child, since they know it is a bit harder for a shy kiddo to get with kids at times.
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Old 17.09.2012, 12:36
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

When you say that she is living in her dreamworld, is she very computer/tvd addicted ?
One remedy for detachment from reality is to give more responsibilities around the home/community. That means doing chores, cooking with the family (do you eat at least one meal per day as a whole family together without any electronic distractions?), maybe having a pet to look after (choose wisely), getting out into nature (do you always go in the car, or do you walk around your suburb?).

Does she have a special older adult in her life ? For a while we had a male babysitter for our son, who was 19, very trustworthy and a good role model. He would just come by our house and take our son out to the park for two hours and come back again - gave us a break, gave him 1:1 attention from someone who was just for him, and helped to break the circuit.

Is she overloaded with homework ? Montessori schools tend not to give a lot of structured homework, but encourage the child to take a role in the household chores etc.

Around that age, we initiated in our household a 'chores' system where chores had to be done before computer time. At first the kids would yell, scream, carry on...but with a fair bit of consistency they now know what is required. Each child's list is different.

My son's list is:
- nothing personal (schoolbag, shoes, dirty socks, toys) left around the house
- no dirty clothes on the bedroom floor
- medications/meals done (he has diabetes so this is really important)
- make his bed
- one chore for mum.

My daughter's list:
- personal washing put away
- bed made
- no food dishes in the bedroom
- shower, deoderant and brush hair.


- no dirty clothes on the bedroom floor
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Old 17.09.2012, 12:48
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

I have an older brother who for years was "different". He was hyper active, and so was medicated for that. He had outbursts of rage - he saw a psychologist for that, and his medication was added to. It wasn't until years later that he admitted that he was more angry because he was embarrassed that he had to go to see "experts" and when kids found out about it, they teased him. My parents never knew about the teasing, and he was too young to know that telling them would help. They would ask what he was angry about and he would just stand there and scream - no words, just sound as he was too scared to say the actual words.

It is impossible to give suggestions on how to deal with your daughter as the secret to success is locked inside her brain. You have been given a ton of great advice about finding things that she can grab onto and see herself as being successful. Whether the local school is willing to do that, or you need to home school (if you are equipped to do that as it is a massive addition to your own time and energy) or you look at montessori or other types of schools that tailor more to the individual, present the options that make sense to her. She is old enough that she MUST be invovled in the decision.

Please just focus on showing your daughter how much you love her for who she is, and more importantly, sit her down - tell her what you LIKE about her. Liking and loving are two different things - she expects you to love her as you are her parent, but kids often don't know that their parents like them as people. Especially if she is part of a larger family and may feel like you like the other "normal" kids more - right or wrong.

Repeating a grade is another source of potential embarassment. If she was not involved in that decision, then it is time to take a step back and apologize to her for that. Tell her that you thought it was the best thing for her but that you should have talked to her before the decision was made and ask her how she feels about it. And then be ready to listen and not justify your reasons right away. Having to stay back a grade means all new "friends" in class, and for someone who has a hard time to begin with, that is a tough thing for her to deal with. Did you keep her in the same school or did you move her to a different one? Might be a bit less embarassing to not have to see all her old classmates over lunch or to and from school.

Good luck!
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Old 17.09.2012, 12:57
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

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She's 8 and the second of four girls. She was always so happy as a little kid and we just can't figure out what's going on with her. She's repeating the second grade this year due to the fact that she's basically given up. Over the past couple years we had numerous meetings with her teacher and a school psychologist and decided this would be best and relieve her of some stress.
I feel like the school system as it is just doesn't work for her. She has always been very imaginative, creative and has an incredible amount of patience, but only when it comes to something that she wants to do. She lives in her own little dream world and can't deal with the fact that once you start school you pretty much need to conform.
Have you ever considered looking into http://www.steinerschule.ch/(Rudolf Steiner Schule)? My friend went to that school in the Basel area and her character was very similar to your daughter's. She loved it so much that years later she also sent her daughter to that school. After finishing the Rudolf Steiner Schule years my friend did study at ETH and was on the same level as everybody else.
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Old 17.09.2012, 13:36
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

Has your daughter been tested for food allergies? I've read before that food allergies (e.g. wheat) are often the cause of many behavioral problems in children. It can cause them to not be able to focus and to easily feel stressed.

Also, I'd make sure she's getting proper sleep.

Good luck! Hope things get better soon...
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Old 17.09.2012, 13:39
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

I am overwhelmed with the responses to my post and I really appreciate the advice and comments. I love this about EF- you always get fast answers and ideas, opinions and shared experiences by people of all ages who genuinely seem to care. Thank-you.

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It sounds like you are just as stressed as your 8 year old which won't help her. Maybe stop trying so hard to get her to fit in. Also, perhaps the psychologists and other "specialists" are freaking her out?
I have thought about that. Her pediatrician suggested seeing a child psychologist, but if I choose to go that route, it'll just be for me. I don't want her to think anything is wrong with her. And yes, I am very stressed out. I'm trying hard not to be, but it's hard for a very emotional and very sensitive person like myself!!

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For starters (if applicable) cut out sugary drinks (particularly ice tea), similarly any drinks with artificial sweeteners - try to give natural drinks: fruit juice, milk, water. Also cut back on sweets, especially those with artificial flavourings and colourings (E's). Fruits (natural sugars) are a good alternative.

Too much sugar and artificial additives can really have a detrimental effect on young children and contribute (or cause) extreme mood swings, especially if some people have a fast metabolism.
I completely agree. And occasionally it does get out of hand, but I am trying to get it under control and have started looking at labels on every product I buy, avoiding all the E's and preservatives and what nots.

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Seems like one of the typical candidates for Rudolf Steiner school.
This has gone through my head and I have been very tempted to set up a meeting to talk to the people there and learn more about it. There seem to be a lot of very positive things about Steiner schools but also a lot of very negative (the trouble with googling it!). I would be very afraid to make such a big change without knowing that it'll turn out positive (obviously no guarantees or way of knowing).

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When you say that she is living in her dreamworld, is she very computer/tvd addicted ?
One remedy for detachment from reality is to give more responsibilities around the home/community. That means doing chores, cooking with the family (do you eat at least one meal per day as a whole family together without any electronic distractions?), maybe having a pet to look after (choose wisely), getting out into nature (do you always go in the car, or do you walk around your suburb?).
She almost never watches tv or is on the computer. She's really into gymnastics, has started Gerateturnen and has gotten involved in Metzenthin kindertheater (at the suggestion of a EF member in another thread), so she spends a lot of time making up routines, trying out different acrobatic stunts and so on. She also spends a lot of time making up her own songs on the piano and singing opera (or trying to).
She says if she had a choice she would go live in the woods with the fairies and dwarfs and she calls herself a Nature-child.
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Old 17.09.2012, 13:50
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

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Has your daughter been tested for food allergies? I've read before that food allergies (e.g. wheat) are often the cause of many behavioral problems in children. It can cause them to not be able to focus and to easily feel stressed.

Also, I'd make sure she's getting proper sleep.

Good luck! Hope things get better soon...
Thank-you.
At about 2 she had very bad excema, terrible digestive problems and so on. She was tested and it came back negative. But I believe there was an intolerance to something so went to a naturopath. We cut out all imaginable allergy causing types of food and it did result in the excema getting a lot better and improvement with her digestion.
She's become a very, very picky eater and I haven't watched her diet too closely for the past few years. We watch it a bit with the wheat though, because if she has too much it becomes obvious by her digestion.

I am on the verge of trying an elimination diet after reading a book that was suggested to me by a forum member. I do believe that something could be causing the rages and I hope we find the answer. Atleast if we could get that under control, it might be enough to find some kind of normalcy and be able to deal better with the fact that she's a little different.
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Old 17.09.2012, 13:55
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Re: What do you do with a child that just doesn't seem to fit in?

Your daughter sounds like she is a very special & talented little human being.

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She almost never watches tv or is on the computer. She's really into gymnastics, has started Gerateturnen and has gotten involved in Metzenthin kindertheater (at the suggestion of a EF member in another thread), so she spends a lot of time making up routines, trying out different acrobatic stunts and so on. She also spends a lot of time making up her own songs on the piano and singing opera (or trying to).
She says if she had a choice she would go live in the woods with the fairies and dwarfs and she calls herself a Nature-child.
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