A Question for Parents

This is the question: What if we told you that life with kids could be incredibly improved at no cost? What if we told you that to gain this priceless advantage, you would not need to move to a different climate, undergo elective surgery, or even invest in any equipment?

At this point, any sane person should be clamoring for the solution — and here it is: attitude revision. A change of attitude is life’s best bargain. Anybody can make the decision to look at a problem or a situation from a different perspective, especially from a perspective that reduces stress and conflict.

How does this happen?

Sometimes, people come to understand that they have let themselves slide, by imperceptible degrees, into attitudes that are not tenable, in the sense of not being reality-based. For instance, many adults suffer from the omniscience fallacy, taking it for granted that they know everything and there is nothing left to learn.

One of the things they think they know is that problems are unavoidable. (Not always true.) Another false belief is that, once problems get established, they can’t be fixed. Now, normally we think of conviction as a positive quality, connected with values and loyalty and all kinds of other admirable traits. But some convictions are toxic. If a person is convinced that it’s too late to fix a bad situation, that is no longer a legit conviction. It has morphed into the psychological disability known as a bad attitude.

Like what, for instance?

Longtime readers may say, “Childhood Obesity News has mentioned this before. Why does it need to be brought up again?” Because it keeps happening. Many parents labor under the mistaken belief that their job is to know everything, and to know everything all day long, without a single break, and to know everything so indubitably that there is never a need to listen to any other input.

And yet, some parents free themselves from the delusion of all-knowingness. Maybe they read Dr. Pretlow’s book, Overweight: What Kids Say, in which he talks about young people like the 186-pound 12-year-old who wrote to him, “If parents would just take the time to listen to their kids, less kids would go to the fridge when depressed.” Making the decision to listen and respond appropriately to what kids say is definitely a change of attitude worth striving for.

Help is good

One thing parents should know is that changes of attitude cannot always be made simply by snapping one’s fingers. The vast majority of adults were raised by parents who didn’t know what they were doing, either. There is no shame is being messed up. If we know we’re messed up and neglect to do anything about it — now, that’s blameworthy.

If parents are unable to change their attitudes on their own, which admittedly can be a pretty hard job sometimes, then as Dr. Pretlow says, “they perhaps would benefit from counseling.” Or even from reading another book. Parent Effectiveness Training by Dr. Thomas Gordon would be a great place to start. P.E.T. classes have helped thousands of parents to get a handle on things. For those who live in remote areas or can’t get out to classes, there is even a dedicated YouTube channel.

“Learn how to work with each other instead of against each other.” Does that sound attractive? Another of the P.E.T. selling points is, “How to listen to your children so they feel genuinely understood.” Bingo! Right on the nose!

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.),” GordonTraining.com, undated
Photo credit: Alan Levine (cogdogblog) on Visualhunt/CC BY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAQs and Media Requests: Click here…

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources