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Nutrition and Learning

I'm very concerned with my 7yr. old step-daughter.  When with us, 2 weekends a month, I try to provide very balanced healthy meals, limiting the sugar and processed foods, and give her a multi-vitamin.  The problem is the other 26 days of the month at her mother's where she eats mostly fastfood, candy, chips, soda and sugary juice paks, no vitamins to supplement, not made to eat any vegetables, fruits or meat if she doesn't want it.  She has always been given whatever she asks for, and children don't ask for the healthy stuff.  Only eating bread, toast, poptarts and loading up the salt on everything.  She is hyper but tired at the same time, has dark circles under her eyes, constantly scratching at her crotch (told me it always itches and burns) Constantly sick, trouble with concentration not just at school, anywhere.  Some of it I think is just a training issue, teaching a to sit still during a movie, etc. which her mother won't even take her to a restaurant, movie or to her older sister's choir performances because she doesn't want to "deal" with her.  (I already have two grown and have been through this, my husband only has the 7 yr. old and is doing his best when he has her).  Dealing with homework is an ordeal, she whines and tries to get you to give her the answer before she has even tried.  Again some of which I believe is mom's lack of wanting to deal with her.  She is struggling in school, reading poorly, math skills (counting money, switching gears from addition to subtraction, etc) very difficult for her.  She is in second grade.  How much of a role is playing in all of this and how much is just poor parenting skills?  I personally feel that she is malnurished by looking at her.  She is tall for her age but seems very much under weight, size 5 Toddlers still fit around her waist.  Also, all her molars have cavities.  What, if anything, can we do to turn this around? I forgot to mention the peeling, smelly feet, with no other symptoms of athlete's foot, no burning/itching, etc.
5 Responses
Avatar universal
How do you know what she eats at her mothers house? How long have you been around the child?
Avatar universal
I have been in the picture since she was 4, and I know how she eats at her mother's because we have been there several times while she was eating.  If she says she doesn't like something, her mother won't make her even try it.  Also, the mother is picky and won't even try to feed the child anything she doesn't like.  Plus, her habits when she comes to our house.  All she wants to eat are sweets and bread products.  I have gotten her to start eating some eggs, meat, and some vegetables but it is a fight every time.  So what is your point?  Do you have anything constructive to give me?
Avatar universal
In this case you and the dad only see her 2 weekends out of the month so there is not alot you can do even tho you try to feed her healthy at your house she is still going to her mothers the majority of the time and eating like she was before. Either have the girl take home the vitamins and tell her how to take them or suggest it to the mother. The only other to solve the problem if it is as bad as you say would be to have the dad get more visitations. Four days out of the month really isnt enough time to have a huge impact on her nutrition or school work
Avatar universal
They just had a parent-teacher conference.  The school is recommending testing for learning disabilities. (ADD, ADHD or anything else that would bring them Federal money)  The good thing about it is, hopefully the doctor will find that it is diet controlled and not brain wiring and can get mom to change.  Anytime dad recommends something to mom, she takes it personally and won't do it.  He has already bought vitamins for all of them to take and she refuses because it was his suggestion.  Thankfully the 7 yr old asks for a vitamin first thing when she gets to our house.  I think she can feel the difference, that it makes her feel better.  Dad is trying to pick her up at least one day during the week and have her spend the night with us.  I just want to know if diet has that much effect on learning abilities?  In all of my research and in raising my two children I think it does.  But I know that genetics also plays a role.  Thanks for listening.
Avatar universal
Nutrition has a big part but then again I never really ate healthy in school and I made good grades and graduated college. I still never eat breakfast. Studies has shown that eating healthier makes you funtion better. I don't know the whole situation with the mother but it might not be ADHD or ADD now days they diagnose every kid with it. It sounds like she just needs more structure. I am a single mother and I am not taking up for her mom but I know how it is to work full time and then come home to my kids its like a mad house trying to get supper on and still have them in bed by 830. I also go to school. So sometimes it is easier for me to just throw a pizza in the oven or get hotdogs. But I try and balance it out if they get fries and hotdog one nite the next night they have to have meat and veggies. But their are alot of families now days that just eat fast food and out all the time.
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