More Positive Moves for Parents

When a child’s passionate interest is recreational eating, it is possible that at least a portion of it could be replaced by a passionate interest in something else. There is only so much time in a day, and small incremental changes sometimes add up to enormous differences. A half-hour of watching silliness on a screen while munching on snack food might be eliminated by substituting something else in its place. Those half-hours can multiply and blossom into whole new areas of interest that eventually become more compelling than stuffing our faces with fake food.

Katia Hetter’s fabulous list of things to do with children, or to entice children into doing, is heavy on play and learning, both of which can be pursued at a very low cost.

Why not play cards? There are all kinds of specialized “Authors” decks, including one that features Irish writers. Knowing one of these facts could make the difference between a child being admitted — or not — to college some day. There are card games that teach how to spot logical fallacies and cognitive biases — skills which, frankly, would be helpful to a lot of grownups, too. There is a great classic French card game about accumulating road mileage in cars, where you can put a speed limit on your opponent, make them run out of gas, or even cause an accident.

The basis

Of course, to make this into real quality time, in a potentially life-changing way, a couple of rules are needed. No phones and no eating are two that come readily to mind. As a parent who finds an activity you can do with your kids, or they can do with each other while maintaining a peaceful atmosphere, you are way ahead of the game.

One big reason why kids eat is because they are unhappy. Whether the parent feels like that is justified, or not, is irrelevant. Helping a child be a little bit happier by giving them undivided, positive attention for a while can only improve everyone’s days. Caveat: You may not perceive results immediately. But every minute we spend being really with our kids is an investment that will pay off in the future.

Another area

Music is a field with enormous potential, and it does not need to be expensive. A young musician does not need to start out with an electric guitar and amp, or a complete drum kit. The kazoo is an excellent solo instrument, or can be played along with any recorded music, at a very reasonable cost. Why not form a kazoo band? (See illustration.) Note: it is impossible to play the kazoo and eat at the same time.

Check out a pawn shop or thrift store for cheap, easy-to-play instruments, and bring home a xylophone or a ukulele or a rainstick. Electronic screens are not always evil, because on them, instructions for how to play any instrument can be found.

Yes, parents need to work, rest, and have some peace of mind. Maybe we don’t want to hear a cacophony of sound. Fortunately, we live in a miracle age where electronic keyboards come with headphones or earbuds. There are instruments a child can bang away at all day, and the grownups never hear a thing. The point being, again, every minute counts. During those minutes, fingers that are pressing black and white keys are not diving into a bag of chips.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Summer is not completely canceled. Here are 100 things we can do with or without kids,”, 07/23/22
Image by bareknuckleyellow/CC BY 2.0

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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