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Awareness of infants and toddlers
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Awareness of infants and toddlers

This is not a question but a baffling observation.
Today my 5-year-old son was about to fall asleep then sat up again and said: "Mommy, did you know - your brother is dead." I gulped but I know my brother is alive. "When we went to Europe" he continued, "he was already dead and we put flowers in front of the RIP stone. People are dead forever until they get better. Your brother is in a nice box and when he wants the flowers, he pulls them through the soil."
Reality is that we did fly to Europe when my son was just 14 months old and my dad - not my brother - had passed away just a day before we arrived to introduce his new grandson to him. Totally unexpected, no illness. My son witnessed my heartache and the funeral and the foreign country but by no means did he speak more than about 30 words back then. During the funeral, he pushed his toy car around the chapel humming happily. People are still touched how life and death were so close together in one room.
I never spoke about these days later on with him or anyone. There are no pictures. And today, 5 years later, he summarized what he had seen as a baby. It makes me feel for all the kids who experience much worse and can not talk about it.
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282524_tn?1348492612
thats wierd,
When i was 3 my greatgrandmother passed away and while we were at the ceremony I got a little to close to the casket and I slipped in between the metal bar were the casket sits and the ground. If it wasnt for my moms fast thinking of grabbing my long hair I would have went in the ground under her. I am now 26 and I remember that day like it was yesterday, freaks me out every time I think about it. Sadly I am still scared of ceremonys and funerals, I have nightmare everytime I go to one.
  He probably does remember it.
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13167_tn?1327197724
Trial - your son has the gift of very long term memory!  That's a great thing.  It's amazing,  isn't it,  the context that a little baby can put this whole thing in,  how clearly he remembers what happened although the detail of who died is a little fuzzy.  The rest is very clear.

My youngest son has a memory from when he was 11 months old.  We were at Caddo Lake,  which is a swamp with mossy trees hanging over it - looks like a Louisiana Bayou.  We were in a canoe,  the 5 of us,  and my husband told the story of when he was a child his family was in the Okefenokee (sp) swamp,  and an alligator came up to their canoe and his dad had to fight it off with the paddle - and my husband kind of reinacted the battle.    EEKS it kind of freaked out my kids and they kept looking for alligators at Caddo.  Then when my youngest son was about 5,  like your son,  he said wow remember that time we were in the swamp and Dad had to fight off the alligtaor with the paddle?   And he remembered it so clearly -although the memory kind of crossed and he remembered the alligator was there,  not a story of an alligator.  It was amazing.  He told the whole story,  and did the fighting motion so clearly,  he remembered it.    He still insists the memory is true,  not a mixed memory,  though.

It is sad,  you're right,  for kids who have seen awful things and lived through crises,  they must remember those things too on some level.  

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173939_tn?1333221450
What a spooky incident, Rebecca. I am sure Halloween will not be your favorite time now. It sounds like a scary movie!

RockRose, that alligator fight memory going back to 11 months is so amazing. It also shows that your husband must be a vivid narrator.

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282524_tn?1348492612
not my favorite holiday at all if it wasnt for my kids i wouldnt go out, lol
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203342_tn?1328740807
I've been fascinated with reading all of this. I don't understand, though. My son is taking Psychology in college right now and he's been taught that a child under the age of three can't remember long term things because that part of the brain hasn't fully developed yet. Could it be possible that these children heard you all speak of these things later on without you knowing it, perhaps? I'm not saying I don't believe it. I'm just wondering.
The earliest memory I have is when I was about three. My mom had married an abusive man (not my dad) and he came home drunk one night and threatened to burn the house down with all of us in it. I remember my mom scooping us up out of our beds in our night clothes and getting in the car (while he was in the shower) and running away. I don't think I just remember because of my mom talking about it because I remember things like my sister sitting next to me in the car crying because she had left her favorite doll. She was about 5 then. My brother remembers more because he was older, but for some reason that particular memory stuck with me.

And on an offnote, Rebecca, I hate Halloween too. It just seems darker, scarier and more evil than when I was a kid. I would take my kids to a church party where they could still dress up in cute costumes and get candy but it was safe. Later, when my kids got older, they begged me to let them go trick or treating, and I reluctantly let them for a few years but never really like the holiday. My favorite holiday is Christmas!
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203342_tn?1328740807
I hope you all didn't take it the wrong way what I said. I didn't mean to imply that I didn't believe you all. :( I actually am quite curious to see if children really can remember that far back. I've even heard stories of children being able to see and hear angels. Supposedly because they're more innocent and open to it than we jaded adults. I always like to hear these stories.
Anybody got anymore stories?
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13167_tn?1327197724
It might be interesting for everyone to tell their earliest memories.  I have a really great long-term memory - short term,  eh,  not so much.  I can't remember 4 items I need at the grocery store without writing them down. ;D

I have very vivid memories from the Air Force Base nursery where my mom used to leave my sister and me when she played bridge and things.  Not often,  and it was a sad and depressing place.  The main lady who ran the place was nice,  she looked like Captain Kangaroo,  though,  and usually much less nice ladies took care of us.  I was 2 when we moved from the base,  so all the memories are from before the age of two.  One,  this girl was being HORRIBLE and fussy and the nursery lady pointed at us in the cribs and said if you're going to act like a baby do you want me to put you in a crib with the babies?  I couldn't believe she had just insulted me,  there I was being nice and sweet and quiet.  When I think of that memory,  I realize how sophisticated toddler's thoughts are,  and how they really understand fully whether they're being treated with love and respect or not.  

What's your earliest memory,  April?
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Oops,  sorry April I just read your first memory.    How awful.  : (
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173939_tn?1333221450
Great idea to do our own early childhood memory research!

But first - April, I started replying to you last night but then decided to do some internet research on this first. One interesting psychology and science report noted that kids do actually remember very early childhood events back into infancy - for a while. And then, after about age 8, our brain seems to purge excess memory, to make room for new experience maybe... So if that theory is realistic, it would be possible for a 5-year-old to remember something he has seen as a baby. In my son`s case I can imagine that he "connected the dots": we spoke about Halloween and cemeteries and tombstones and death recently, out of context. Possibly he related that to the visual memories of the real funeral 5 years prior. By the way, your first memory is so heart wrenching. Glad you have a great family of your own now.

RockRose, your description would contradict the theory that adults purge their memories before age 3. You remember very well. And sophisticated that was! Not too many parents would believe that a baby or toddler could feel insulted, despite a few babycare books that ask parents to treat even their newborn with the same respect they would display for grown-ups.

My first precise memory would be a hospital stay for tonsillectomy at age 3, however I do have rather sketchy memories of me in a crib waking up in panic because I thought I heard foot steps - and it was actually just my own heartbeat that scared me or so I told myself. But the vision of those crib bars and then my dad checking on me is still there. It must have been between age 1 and 2. I still don`t know if I felt like that just once but I was scared of my dad and often dreamt that I should rather sleep under my bed so nobody could find me....
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Trial,  that's such an interesting memory.  The memory of the crib bars,  and the footsteps,  and you thinking it was hopefully just your heartbeat.    You have a very detailed long term memory,  and also an awareness of heartbeat that is surprising.  

I really think there are several types of brains.  There are those who have very clear long term memory,  some are kind of in the middle, and some have  really good short term memories.  

I've lived in this same house since 1987,  and my now 18 year old has brought kids over to the house who had been here ages ago - in their preschool years and not ever since.  From playgroup days.  Some of the kids say oh I remember this house,  and they name a detail that is true.  Some others just have blank stares,  they don't remember at all,  and in fact,  don't remember the playgroup at all.    It's a different brain type,  and none of these kids are unintelligent.  

I have another story that just occurred to me - my oldest son and the son of one of my best friends used to go to the same babysitter,  Eva,   when they were toddlers.  They stopped going there at the age of 3.  One day when my son was about 16 an Elvis Presley song came on the radio - "You ain't nothin but a hound dog".    My son laughed and said back at Eva's house,  Jeffrey used to dance to that song until his diaper came off.  He and I both stared at each other - how do you remember that?  Jeffrey was out of diapers well before 3 years old.  So I called my friend Jill and told her the story and asked if she could ask Jeffrey if he also had that memory.  I heard her shout to him,  hey when you and Tim were at Eva's house,  and Elvis Presley sang You Ain't Nothin But a Hounddog,  what did you do?  I heard this long pause,  and then loud laughter in the background - I would dance until my diaper came off.  

Some kids have really long memories.  I've encountered other kids who can't remember anything in kindergarten.  ???
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RockRose, you`re defeating all my theories with your stories...just kidding. How amazing and cute, the mutual diaper dance memories.
I too believe that there are different types of brain wiring. Some kids live and think in the here and now and are rather the what-you-see-is-what-you-get types, others have more of the artistic brain that constantly looks around and tries to link past and present visuals and thoughts. The first group may not be interested in having all these childhood memories and may be the type husband - or wife - that looks at the beautiful sunset with a shrug "so, what`s for dinner". The other may be the adult type who never stops searching for whatever makes them feel alive.
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Years ago, my psychology professor told the class to think back to an early childhood memory.  He gave us a few minutes to come up with one and then he told us that if you see yourself in the "memory", it's likely not a memory after all.  He said that true memories are visualized from your perspective.  That was interesting because my memory was of me in a stroller--my mom had put Baby Magic on my face and she turned to lock the front door and when she turned around, there was a wasp on my face and she freaked out.  I always thought that was a memory, but when I "remembered" it, I pictured myself in the stroller with a wasp on my face.  I obviously heard her telling the story to someone at some point in time after the fact and I envisioned it from her perspective, creating a "memory" for myself that was not actually a memory at all.

That's not to say that people don't have true early memories, but I wonder how many perceived memories are actual memories.  My son swears he remembers being born.  When I say that he probably just thinks he remembers because he saw the video of his birth, he gets really upset and describes how it was really dark and muffled and then suddenly it was really, really bright, noisy, and cold.  He says he remembers being put into a sink and can see the sprayer where the water comes out.  When I ask him if he can see the nurse carrying him to the sink, he says no...he doesn't see himself at all.  So maybe it is a memory?  Or maybe he imagined it all from his own perspective after seeing the video?  Hard to tell really.

Interesting topic, though!
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203342_tn?1328740807
Thats interesting. Remember when I said I remembered my sister sitting next to me in the car crying because she had left her favorite doll? So, I wasn't seeing me, I was seeing her and the car. I was about three then, I think. I guess that would make sense. You wouldn't normally see yourself, would you? Interesting.
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286776_tn?1268877932
Wow crazy. I watch sylvia browne alot and she is saying how more kids coming in to the world are most psychic to these things. That would of freaked me out!
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*more not most
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203342_tn?1328740807
Sylvia Brown is a fake and a fraud. I won't even watch Montel Williams on Wednesdays because she's on then. She plays on peoples emotions. Watch her carefully sometime. She is just good at reading people. I've seen her insist to someone about something that they disagree with but she somehow will turn them around. Like for instance, one time someone said to her about a dream she kept having about someone who died in her house and was asking about it. Sylvia told her it was a woman, and the woman said no, it was a man in her dream. Another time, someone said something about an accident that her sister and brother in law (I think) were in and Sylvia started saying something about how someone hit them and the lady said no, no one had hit them, but Sylvia insisted that a car had hit them and left the scene. I don't know. Everytime I've watched her, I'm usually pretty good at reading people too, and she just seems to know exactly how to play people. Just be careful about what you believe. Investigate everything. Be shrewd and don't let anyone snow you. Just a word of advice. You can take it or leave it. I just hate to see people taken advantage of.
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Trialanderror, I love this topic!  I have been reading it with a lot of interest.  I don't have children but I like the child behavior forum b/c it helps me understand what ppl are dealing with.  

I would just like to ask you (and the other mom's) what they think abt ppl who have been neglected or abused as infants - say 0 to 5 yrs) and how this affects the child and most importantly, if it can be overcome.

I have very little memories of my childhood but I know we moved around alot.  My family is very dysfunctional - father a cheat, mom played victim, and us kids were left to fend for ourselves emotionally.   My father did provide for us financially - we always had food, housing, clothing but it's the psychological "security" aspect that was missing.  

Someone on another forum talked abt things being hard-wired into a person's brain.  For instance, if someone can't commit, maybe being abandoned as a child hard-wired their brain to the point where they think that committing to someone would lead to abandonment therefore if they don't commit they can't be abandoned.  

Sorry to barge in on your great question but it started me thinking that if an infant could "remember" stuff then that it makes sense that whatever they remember would affect how they deal with the world around them.  

The ladies on here are very smart and thoughtful so any insight or thoughts you could give me would be helpful.

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I just thought of something.  What about the stuff we don't remember?  How does that affect the child?  By stuff I mean not being attended to or held or read to, basically felt loved.  

This is sad to say, but I never wanted kids b/c I didn't think I had it in me to be a good mother.  This feeling had to come from somewhere.
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203342_tn?1328740807
Actually, they know that if a baby is not held, he suffers for it. He will have issues with trust and have a hard time connecting or getting close to someone else. There's someone in our Bible study at church who adopted a little boy when he was about 4 I think. Their family really struggled with him trying to get him to trust them and learn to love. He used to hoard food even though they reassured him that he could eat any time he ever got hungry. He wouldn't allow himself to get too close to her or her husband for a long time. They had to be very patient and just love him. He especially had a hard time believing God could love him (she was a guest speaker one day and spoke on this). They did a lot of praying and just loving him, even when he couldn't return the love. He is now 19 and has just joined the military, which she thinks is the best thing for him because of the structure, etc. Growing up was very difficult on all of them. He used to have rages and throw things. They just kept loving him. Recently, she said her and her husband went out to visit him after he graduated from boot camp. She told him that she was going to be talking to her group at church about trusting God and asked him for his imput. He said basically, "Tell them if God could take a troubled kid like me and turn him around then anybody can trust him." She was stunned. She said she just cried. All their hard work, prayers, tears, love, paid off. He's turned into a fine young man. Just thought I'd share a tear jerker with you! :)

My point is though, when a child isn't held, loved and nurtured, it does affect them deeply,and can for the rest of their lives. They can have trouble establishing relationships of their own. This family intervened in a young boy's life and showed him love, even when he wasn't being very lovable. I wish everyone would get it. Jesus said love is the most important commandment. If everyone could just love each other unconditionally, we wouldn't have the wars and abuse in this world. Ah well, I guess this is my morning to be all philisophical! Time to go to church! :) Take care, all.
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173939_tn?1333221450
It is good that you mention the things we don`t remember. It has been assumed before that situations that are too overwhelming for a child will be pushed into the unconscious zone right
away, but for sure they shape an infant`s sense of security and trust.
I had often been wondering why, in remembereance of my first 6 years, I could only think of tension and fear at home and only felt secure and free when I was with my toddler or preschooler friends. I never really bonded with my parents until age 30. At home I mainly tried to protect my older brother. My dad was a real military type tyrant. Also, I was told later that we had been raised by the sixties standards: you feed a newborn every 3 to 4 hours, don`t cuddle them, put them straight back into their crib and never give in to any crying. The theory back then was: if they get attached, they will manipulate their parents. There was no touch, no apparent love. Even in society back then, children were seen as nothing but trouble makers. Needless to say that I always had the impression that it sucks to be a child so I did not want to have children. In my mid-thirties I had overcome these thoughts, though, by forcing both of my parents to explain what went on in my childhood and I was able to put things into context and peace.
Sorry this got so long. I just wanted to point out that for sure negligence during infancy will have influence on your perception of life later on, whether you remember anything or not. And the example of a marriage my parents set has scared me off for sure. I still imagine that once you get married the husband will turn into a dictator even though I know it is not always the case.
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286776_tn?1268877932
My mom and step dad think shes fake too. I didnt say i believe everything she says but somethings you cant just read into..and i only watch montel on wed because of her lol
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Avatar_f_tn
April - the story of the little boy made be cry!!!!!!  Sometimes I would feel so unloveable but unlike the little boy in your post, my parents didn't notice  enough to let me know I was still loveable.  You mentioned that he hoarded food well I never hoarded food but I would hoard weird things like rocks or books.  Don't know what they represented but it made me feel secure.

The older I get, the more I realize that they were both crippled in a way with showing love.  With my mother's constant fear of being left for another woman and then having to deal with that shame and humiliation and lack of financial resource, she wasn't really capable of showing love.  Unfortunately, what her actions taught me was to never trust anyone (men or women).  

Trialanderror - Wow, we grew up in the same generation.  "Children should be seen and not heard".  I  remember feeling like a burden to everyone.  That type of childrearing has produced people who have to self-medicate their pain with alcohol, drugs, shopping, sex, jobs, whatever feels best.  

Good for you that you were able to bond with your parents.  IMO, that shows a person who really worked through some very serious issues.  I've never bonded with my parents but I've learned to see them as people who didn't know what they were doing and were in all probability, doing the best they with what they knew at the time.  I know my mom feels bad abt stuff - she loved us but she didn't know how to show that love - make sense?  My dad as well.

Thank you for such a great topic!
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203342_tn?1328740807
I grew up in the sixties. I kinda felt the same way. I never was close to my mother. She had three marraiges until she finally found a great guy (my stepdad). She had a lot of issues herself. I think she even had depression, etc., but never would have admited to it or sought help. I remember her saying once she wouldn't do that because it might hurt my dad's career. He was in the military. I don't see how it would have hurt his career but maybe they did things differently back then.

When my mom was a single parent (before she met my stepdad now), she had to work and she'd say she had to leave me in daycare and I would be standing at the fence crying when she left. When she'd come back to get me, I'd be standing at the fence again, and she thought "My God, did that child stand there all day?!" I was very needy, I think. My mother was never a real cuddly person. I remember once in about 1st grade getting a small pebble in my eye. I went to my teacher and she got a wet cloth and gently wiped my eye till it came out. I was so moved my her caring, gentle touch that the next day I purposely put a pebble in my eye and came back to her.That time she showed me how to clean my eye. I was disappointed. This is how much I craved love and attention! Wasn't that pathetic!
My mom and I finally started to get along about 12 years ago but still are not real close. She's just a hard person to get close to. I always felt like I never pleased her. I could never do anything right. Even into adulthood, I realized I was trying so hard to please her. I just wanted her approval so bad. I just sent my daughter down to her grandparents last summer and she came home and told me she never wanted to go back because she felt like Grandma was so critical and judgemental. I realized that it wasn't just me. It just makes me feel so sad. She's pushed her children away and even her grandchildren and yet she doesn't get it. I know she loves all of us and would give us her lifesavings if needed, but we never got what we really wanted, unconditional acceptance and approval. She doesn't even seem to realize how she comes across. I've tried so many times to talk to her, and she just gets defensive and hurt and feels attacked no matter how I word things. She just seems so uptight so much. I just wish she'd learn to relax and just enjoy her kids and grandkids, you know?
She tried telling me when my kids were little that I shouldn't let them crawl in bed with me, that they needed to stay in their own beds. Well you know what? When my kids had a bad dream or just needed some extra cuddling, you better believe that I let them crawl in bed with me and I enjoyed that cuddle time! They grow up so fast as it is. I remember when I was little and had a nightmare, I didn't feel like I could run to my mom, so I stayed in my room usually wide awake until I felt better. Only one time do I remember her letting me crawl in bed with her, but she didn't cuddle me. I stayed on one side, her on the other. Man, thanks a lot guys! You brought back all these memories! Just kidding. I've forgiven my mom for the most part. I've just realized that how you are raised really does affect how you turn out as an adult. I tend to not be confident enough in my own decisions, for instance, because my mom never let me feel like I was smart enough or could do anything. She usually made the choices for me. It's only been the last few years that I've been doing better with all that. It's just so sad. She doesn't even realize how she pushes people away because of the way she acts. She used to be so jealous of mine and my brother and sisters relationship with our Grandma. You know what? She accepted us. She always acted thrilled to hear from us and would give her undivided attention to us. She made us feel important. She died almost 4 years ago. God, I miss her. She was the one really positive influence in my life.
And on that sad note! Sorry, guys! We just need to remember how big of an influence we are on our own kids.
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April - You've overcome alot as well!  It must have been hard with your mom being so emotionally distant.  I'm sure that her search and stuggle for a good husband had a lot to do with her attitude towards her kids.  Women in those days basically had to be married or else they were called Old Maids.  You know, growing up is hard.  Some people say they wish they were young again but I'm like,  NO WAY.  I'll take my 30's & 40's any day....

While forgiveness & understanding will help us with dealing with our parents now, what else can people do to overcome the lack of love in their early lives?  I think we can all agree that our parents did the very best they could with what they knew at the time but  how WE can deal with lack of affection, approval and move on with life?  I'm not talking abt having a pity party or blaming the past for our present actions but HOW can we feel better about ourselves?

As April said, she lacked confidence in areas of her life.  How can she overcome that?  How can I overcome my way of communicating with people and get to that deeper level that I really do yearn for but for lack of trust, can't?  I guess what I'm trying find out is if anyone has some suggestions on how we become more confident, whole people w/o blaming our parents or the past???

I applaud both Trialanderror and April for being such attentive and caring parents and I'm glad they aren't taking the "children should be seen & not heard" way of parenting.
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I am trying not to slip off the forum topic but it is hard in this thread...Mayflowers, in my mid-twenties I felt that since nobody is able to choose the family they are born into, one should at least enjoy the freedom to become independent from the past if it doesn`t suit one`s personality and values. Who is to say that a child needs to remain in the same old family pattern. Probably the emotional reactions learned in early childhood are the hardest to overcome but simply being aware of them helps to not being trapped by them eventually. Example: most of my childhood initiative and spirit had been stifled by my mom`s "be careful" and my dad`s "all wrong, you`re an idiot". In my job I used to have to fight those demons that overshadowed each project with negativity and self-doubt. But with each project I had a new chance to re-discover enthusiasm and optimism. Same with sports and travel. Success and joy in those areas helped me to face my parents in a neutral way later on, without anger and erratic emotions. In return we were all able to talk as grown-ups later on and got old resentment and accusations out of the way. We all worked on letting go. Letting go is the only chance to move on towards happiness. And happiness attracts the situations you really want. All of this turns into a great basis to become a parent one day. I am sure you would be a great parent with all the thoughts you are putting into past and present and future, even at 106...
As for the parenting, I often think about how the parenting books of different generations have and are going to influence the outcome of society. I do believe that the first couple of years in a child`s life are the most important ones for social development and confidence. But I am pretty aware that us "neglected" ones of the sixties are tempted to go overboard with positive attention towards our children. I have seen many parents and teachers being the kids` cheerleaders, praising each and every action as small as it may have been just because we do not dare to be the criticisers of our past. That may create a generations of self-centered but lost future parents, I wonder.
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I think we just have to take baby steps, you know? It's a learning process. I think we're learning all the days of our lives. We never stop learning. As long as we want to change or want to better ourselves, then we do better every day.
As to how to have more confidence, I think just stepping out more and trying things and suceeding gives us more confidence. Like I said before, I was fortunate enough to have a Grandma who believed in me. I had a very close relationship with her. I think if it hadn't been for her, my life at home would have been unbareable, especially as a teen since we fought so much. I actually was so afraid of my mom that I rebelled kinda late in life. I waited until I was late teens early twenties!
I think I'm a lot better. Since coming to Christ, I've wanted to better myself, and in some areas I've suceeded, in some I haven't.
Yet, I see what a powerful influence my mother's been in my life. I still try to please her and keep the peace. But I know now that it's not me, it's her. I've become aware of so much lately. I guess I'm finally growing up! :)

Mayflowers, I'm not sure what to say about how you can start to trust people again. I'd say just be careful and take things slow. Really get to know the person before you share a lot. Test the ground and see how they act when you do tell them little things. Do they make fun of you? Do they sympathize and really listen? Do they go out and tell others? This is a biggie! I hate people who gossip, so I try real hard not to do that myself. Keep testing the waters. We're all human, of course, so we will make mistakes, but learn to read people and their reactions. If you're not comfortable around them, maybe there's a reason for that. Learn to trust your own instincts or intuition. I've learned that mine are actually pretty good! It's taken me a long time to realize that. When I'd look back at something and realize how I first viewed the person, I was almost always right. Just learn to trust yourself first, then maybe you can learn to trust others better. We're all on this road together! :)
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RockRose
Austin, TX
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specialmom
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AnnieBrooke
OR
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Sandman2
San Pedro, CA
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nursegirl6572
PA
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allmymarbles
NJ