Nurture the Enthusiasm

This is worth saying again. As parents, the really useful thing to want for our children is…

[…] for them to find activities they can master and excel at and profit from and gain satisfaction from, to the point where they won’t be tempted to use substances to gain a momentary illusion that their challenges have magically been met. Our best hope is that they will achieve actual goals and satisfactions that will remove them from the all-encompassing grasp of their problems.

Another post discussed “replacing the displacement,” or rechanneling overflow mental energy to other, non-harmful behaviors. What could these non-harmful displacement behaviors be? Anything from a slight experimental curiosity to a hobby to a passion. It looks like in general it’s a good idea for parents to let a child follow an enthusiasm, no matter how silly or useless it might seem.

Maybe it turns out, they don’t like the experiment and want to end it. Here is where a lot of parents take a wrong turn. They think they know everything about the child, and make disparaging remarks and dire predictions. “You’ll be bored with it. You’ll break your neck. You only think you want to do that because your friends are doing it. Doing that won’t get you into college.”

Wrong turn

When a kid drops a new activity they were so determined to try, just a few weeks ago, parents are understandably frustrated. The easy response is to cop an attitude, and scold or ridicule the kid for being so fickle. But what actually happened there? The young person has learned from experience the very lesson the parent tried to warn them about… and now, the parent is going to shame that young person?

Please, adult caregivers, resist the temptation. Everybody is entitled to try something and decide it’s not for them. To give a kid a hard time for changing her or his mind is one of the most counter-productive things a parent can do. Especially if your kid quits doing something you didn’t want them to do in the first place — just hush up and take the win. And when a new enthusiasm appears on the horizon, don’t hinder the process. This might be the thing that saves your kid’s life.

It works

A very successful celebrity entertainer and podcaster talks frequently about the things he has brought into his life to take the place of drinking and smoking. One of them is a drum kit, and another is a classic pickup truck, and their purpose is to displace alcohol and tobacco. They are alternative activities, things to do instead. Practicing intricate rhythms and taking an engine apart are also things a person might like to do instead of eating.

And we’re not just talking about run-of-the-mill “hobbies” here. This is why BrainWeighve encourages trying out new things, which can also include granting a second chance to things we might have tried before. The idea is to find something you can really sink your teeth into instead of pizza. A person whose passion is eating needs a new thing to be equally passionate about.

Sure, we need to work on resolving the miserable feelings that start the whole process, generating negative vibes. That is one level of displacement, the automatic reaction that animals have when they peck at grass or whatever, to dissipate the energy that might otherwise metastasize into fight, flight, etc. Just about anybody could benefit from some type of therapy or counseling, in order to keep things from getting to that point. Because with that kind of help, we don’t have such a need to blow off energy by doing whatever our bad habit is.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by TORLEY

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