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Say a preteen girl is going through an unhealthy obsession. I know many people go through a phase of extreme obsession with something at some point, whether it's with a celebrity, a school crush, a band, etc, but it almost always subsides eventually. Picture a little girl obsessed with Justin Bieber, to the point that she is neglecting other parts of her life, such schoolwork and spending time with friends, because all she does is listen to his music and read about him.

What's the best way to deal with something like this? If I discourage it, that might just make it cooler, "forbidden fruit", or at least drive the two of us apart. Is it better to encourage it, and just try to make the obsession run its course as quickly as possible? Is it true that "the only way out is through"?

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    Is it actually unhealthy, or is it a Justin Bieber obsession? While you may not think he's great, I wouldn't call that unhealthy. – Drew Jan 27 '16 at 17:41
  • @Drew The obsession is having negative impacts on her grades and real-life relationships, because she's no longer interested in anything not related to him. – Jeff Caros Jan 27 '16 at 17:46
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    Maybe focus on what is neglected and non-negotiable: homework, chores, hygiene and such things. Don't make it about the obsession, as it will probably subside on its own? Even though it might not be good for her to abandon other hobbies, her friends, etc that is essentially her 'free time'. Homework is not. – Ida Jan 27 '16 at 21:56
  • @Ida could you make that into an answer instead of just a comment? :) – Acire Jan 28 '16 at 3:49
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I don't have a lot of experience with pre-teen girls, other than having been one once upon a time, but since I was asked to elaborate on my comment.

I agree with your assessment that making it 'forbidden' will make it more attractive.

If I were you, I would figure out what is non-negotiable to you as a parent. Homework, chores, hygiene and so forth.

If she chooses to loose her friends, and neglect other hobbies, that might be painful to watch, but in the end she can do what she wants with her 'spare time' within parent set limits (like you might have time limit on screen time, which will effectively limit the number of videos and such). It might even be that another hobby is non-negotiable, like if you have paid sessions for a sport - but try to figure out what you as a parent think she HAS to do.

Even though it is not a 'healthy' hobby - what if you had a kid in competitive little league baseball, or gymnastics. You would probably as a parent recognize that some things are sacrificed for meets and matches and training, but homework would not be one of them.

I suspect that given time, this interest might wane on its own, and that it needs to run its course.

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Trying to restrict it will make it even more attractive. You actually may have more luck by actively pushing it. Ask her to watch music videos with you as soon as she gets home from school. Talk constantly about how hot Justin Bieber is, and that all the other mums/dads secretly love him as well. You'd need to be convincing though. I think this would have to put her off.

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