News Flash: Kids Are Different

Yesterday part of the discussion was about how young people, especially when they reach their teen years, can be very resentful of any implication that they need help in any way. And even if they do acknowledge the need in some manner, usually the last people they look to are their parents. (After all, aren’t their parents the ones who messed them up in the first place?)

So, what are we supposed to do about possible interventions? In “The displacement mechanism: a new explanation and treatment for obesity,” Dr. Pretlow explored the idea that effective intervention could be based on the displacement mechanism and added,

It would seem to provide subjects with believable hope that they can curb their overeating without struggling or relying on willpower. In addition to dealing with the sources of the displacement, it also is possible to replace the displacement with another displacement that is less destructive.

Sometimes, a parent (or other mentor figure) may be able to help kind of sneakily, so the child will not realize that anyone presumes to be capable of helping in any way, and will maybe not take offense or resist the suggestion.

But to make things even more complicated, apparently, children have different personality types (who knew?) Okay, that was a facetious comment, but it is a factor of which the aspiring helpful adult needs to be aware. Fortunately, guidance is available from such professionals as Dr. Shefali Tsabary, who identifies six “extraordinary” types of children who may need careful and individualized guidance lest they crash and burn:

1. The Anxious Exploder… often fussy, irritable and get triggered by the slightest thing.

A parent is advised to maintain a grounded, firm, calm demeanor and suggest, “When you feel nervous, close your eyes and repeat to yourself, ‘I am safe, I am home, and I am going to be okay.’”

2. The Hyperactive Explorer… need to be honored and not shamed for their passionate spirit.

3. The Overpleaser… soft and pliable, easy to mold and shape… Parenting tip: Honor and teach them how to protect their boundaries. “You are a giver, and you may encounter many who will keep taking from you. Remember that it’s okay to say ‘no.’”

4. The Dreamer-Recluse… shy and introverted, and can struggle with social and conversational skills… Help them feel secure and highlight their strengths.

5. The Rebel Nonconformist… They won’t comply until they’re convinced it’s something they wish to do…. These kids need to feel respected for their determination.

Unfortunately, this type of young person is also exquisitely sensitive to attempts at manipulation. If a grownup tries to convince such a youth that “it’s something they wish to do,” that young person will see through it in a second, and become even more resentful. Dr. Tsabary suggests teaching such a child, “Don’t fight rules simply for the sake of fighting, or you will burn yourself out.” This is, for better or worse, the type of lesson that can be best taught, and perhaps only taught, through example.

6. The Happy-Go-Lucky… These kids are always laughing and in a good mood. The only downside is that they can be too relaxed and seem unmotivated.

Dr. Tsabary offers a shining piece of wisdom: “Happy-Go-Lucky kids are actually the gurus of living in the present.” In the long run, it is much easier for this type of young person to eventually develop a serious side, than for an Anxious Exploder to manifest a happy-go-lucky side. So cherish that light-heartedness, and please don’t squelch it!

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “There are 6 ‘extraordinary’ types of kids, says psychologist,”, 03/18/23
Image by Great Himalaya Trails/CC BY-ND 2.0

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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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.

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