Obsessions: Kailey, Heather, Elvis

Consumed with a Crooner

"This is my daughter, Kailey. She's had a strange obsession with Elvis since she was 2 years old," Heather says. "This is Kailey in what we call the Elvis room. As you can see, we've got a lot of her Elvis stuff that she has and it goes all the way around her room, and when we started running out of room on her walls, we started going to the ceiling."

"This is my favorite thing in my Elvis collection," Kailey says, standing next to a life-size replica of her favorite crooner. "There are records all over my walls. I've got a picture with Elvis. My Elvis dolls, Elvis glasses, cards, cup, pen, postcard. I have an Elvis plate, everything that you can almost think of. The greatest thing about Elvis is he's handsome," she says in her Elvis-print dress.

"And trust me, Dr. Phil, with her massive collection, Kailey never tires of Elvis. It's a non-stop Elvis parade," Heather says. "Dr. Phil, can you please tell me if this is normal?"

"So, what do you think?" Dr. Phil asks Heather.

"I think she could be into worse things. But it's been going on since she was 2, and most kids will get into something, and they'll get out of it, and it'll be a phase, and she's done this since she was 2, and it's not ending yet," she says.

Dr. Phil explains the difference between whether something is normal versus abnormal. "Something is normal if it doesn't interfere with your other functioning. If you're able to think, feel, act, do, deal with your life without interference, then it's probably OK. If it's starting to interfere in some way, and we're talking here about your daughter, if it was interfering with schoolwork in some way, with friends, young people her own age, exercise, all the things that you expect a kid at that age to be doing, then I'd say it's crossed the line to abnormal. Is this interfering?"

"No, she's a straight-A student. She's never made anything below an A," Heather says. "She is very interactive. She plays ball in the summertime. She has a life, but when it comes to big events: scheduling vacations, birthday parties, it has got to be Elvis. We're going to Tupelo, or we're going to Graceland. It has to wrap around Elvis."

"Well, from the sound of your accent, that's probably not far from your house, is it?"

"No, I'm from Tennessee," Heather says.

"Is it normal that a child as young as she is, can be so much in love with something like Elvis?" Heather asks. 

"It's unusual, but that's not abnormal," Dr. Phil says. "Kids look for something to define themselves. They look to something to identify with, something to worship, look up to, live vicariously through, kind of get devoted to in some way, and that's why you have dolls " like, what are these American Dolls? " and all these different things that they get focused on. For her, it turns out to be Elvis, and it's not something that you want to rip away from her. It's not something you want to punish her for, but you may need to redirect, because I assume from 2 to 7, her income has been pretty limited? She probably hasn't worked a lot, so I'm guessing it's you that's going and buying all of this stuff and turning her room into a shrine."

"Mainly, but everybody in my family does this now. People out of state bring stuff when they go on vacation now," Heather says.

"OK, but you're the gatekeeper here," Dr. Phil points out. "You're either buying it and giving it to her, or you're letting people flood the house with it and give it to her. And if you want to change that, then you need to put the brakes on it."

Dr. Phil recommends redirecting Kailey's attention so she doesn't become a one-note child, and helping her find other interests. "And stop buying it all the time. There's a really great word in parenting: No," he says. He reiterates that this is a hobby and an escape for Kailey, which isn't abnormal, and one he assumes she'll get out of when she starts approaching puberty.