Peer Pressure Rules

Peer pressure has gotten a bad rap. When we think about peer pressure, we focus almost exclusively on the detrimental effects of negative peer pressure. We have forgotten that peer pressure is also one of the strongest shapers of positive social and academic behavior. As adults we use it to push ourselves to the next level. From workout buddies to peer-reviewed academic journals, peer pressure is a powerful motivating tool.

Over the weekend my sons were playing Minecraft with some friends and one child decided to destroy structures built by the others. The peer pressure correction was swift. The other kids worked together first to disable his character by “killing” him then, when that didn’t work, they banned him from the server for a week. The peer pressure and consequences for his anti-social behavior were swift, effective, and temporary. His friends even comforted him after the banning. They reminded him it was for a short period of time and let him know that although they understood how much fun it is to blow things up in Minecraft, he needed to restrain himself if he wanted to play with them.

Navigating peer group rules develops executive function. it also teaches children how to behave in society in a way that is difficult for adults to mimic. As children get older, their view of themselves and their place in the world is increasingly defined by how they see themselves in their peer groups. Are they the clown, the smart one, the loner, or are they lucky enough to have a peer group that allows them to be a multidimensional, complete person?

While we cannot choose their friends, we can stack the deck in favor of more positive peer interactions by getting our children into academic and extracurricular programs that emphasize acceptance, hard work, respect, and kindness. One of the huge benefits of getting your child into “the good” school is not the staff or facilities. It is the other students. Surround your child with high achievers that value academics and your child will study more to fit in.

Finding a positive peer group is especially important for highly and exceptionally gifted children. These children are capable of academic achievements above and beyond average kids their age and it is their intellectual peers that will pull them to excel. Of course, it is important to help your child find their true peers. If your 15-year-old is working on cancer research, then his intellectual peers are not regular 8th and 9th graders. Yet it isn’t all about academics. Gifted children’s sometimes volatile passion and asynchronous development can make it difficult for them to feel fully comfortable in a regular, age-mate peer group. By giving them opportunities to develop friendships with gifted children of various ages, they are more fully understood and accepted.

Here are some rules for evaluating positive peer pressure.

  1. The pressure is focused on modifying behavior, not changing the person. In other words, the uniqueness of each individual in the group is valued and accepted.
  2. The group applies pressure consistently and even-handedly to all members of the peer group without one child being relentlessly singled out.
  3. The consequences for failing the peer group’s expectations are temporary and not emotionally or physically scarring.
  4. The pressure and resulting consequences are not acted out publicly. There is no record of it on Facebook, YouTube, other social media, or the Internet in general.
  5. The peer group moves on and past mistakes are forgiven and forgotten.
  6. You, as a parent, agree with the values and goals the peer group emphases.

The right kind of peer pressure encourages all of us to push ourselves harder than we would otherwise and helps us reach new goals. One of the most important jobs for parents of gifted kids is making sure they are surrounded by helpful peer groups. Then we can sit back and let the positive pressure do its magic.

Improper regulation of neurotransmitters in ADHD – Coursera ADHD – Week 5

This week’s class gave us a more detailed look at the neurochemistry of ADHD. Much of it focused on monoamines, catecholamine synthesis, chemical structures, and neurobiology of the brain. I’ll attempt to distill the information down to what I, as a parent, find most helpful.

The neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine are deficient or dysregulated in ADHD. On the molecular genetic level, research shows that the genes most likely linked to ADHD also affect dopamine and norepinephrine.

The entire mechanism of motivation and attention is complex and involves multiple brain areas and neurochemicals. Although it was not covered in detail, the transmitter serotonin is also thought to modulate brain function and affect the symptoms of ADHD. Because the system is so complex, researchers feel that the issue with ADHD might be more a dysregulation of the neurotransmitter system where the release of chemicals is out of sync than a systematic deficiency of dopamine or norepinephrine. That being said, most ADHD drugs work by increasing their production and/or slowing their re-uptake to extend their effect.

One of the lecture slides was a great venn diagram showing serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine functionality. The diagram here, from the World of Caffeine website, is a more complex version of the one used in class. It shows how the three monoamines balance to create optimal attention, motivation, mood, and cognitive function.

World of Caffeine also has a nice summary of how caffeine affects the neurotransmitters. Caffeine is frequently the ADHD stimulant medication of choice for adults with ADHD symptoms.

Outside of the formal lecture, responses to the office hours questions were also posted this week. Amid general course and detailed brain anatomy information, were a few answers about kids and ADHD that stood out:

  • ADHD diagnoses decrease with age due most likely to several factors including the disorder naturally improving with age in some individuals.
  • The current definition of ADHD and system of diagnosis will not over identify children if clinicians are careful in their assessments and look for other explanations for problems with impulse control and attention regulation other than ADHD. However, too often our healthcare system doesn’t allow adequate time for evaluations. This can also lead to missed diagnosis.
  • Exercise and diet cannot prevent the onset of ADHD but they can help improve the symptoms. Dr. Rostain recommends the book Spark by Dr. John J. Ratey for anyone interesting in learning more about using exercise to improve ADHD.
  • ADHD is linked to poor sleep. It is possible the same brain difficulties that lead to ADHD symptoms also interfere with sleep regulation.
  • Although autism and ADHD  are entirely different entities, the same genes are involved.
  • Psychosocial stress increases ADHD risk and insufficient sleep diminishes focusing and productivity for everyone.
  • Brain training can build focus, attention, and cognitive processing but there is limited data on which programs are most effective because the field is very new.
  • There is no correlation between ADHD and IQ other than as a group, children with ADHD have a slightly lower average IQ of 95 rather than the 100 of the general population. This little fact, to me, says that if a child who is highly or exceptionally gifted has symptoms that look like ADHD, extra care should be taken in trying to determine what is actually going on. It might be ADHD but it might just as easily be normal behavior for a stressed, high-energy, gifted child.

In a few of the office hours answers students were referred to Judith Warner’s recent article on ADHD in Time. The gist of the article seems is that ADHD is a true medical condition and if we get too worried about over diagnosis we run the risk of having insurance companies or congress deny effective treatment options to vulnerable kids. She states that it is a developmental disorder not a symptom of social pathology.

Yes, ADHD is a real problem and is classified as a developmental disorder. Yet, carefully treating kids negative affected by it does not preclude an in-depth discussion on modern childhood. It is a disorder triggered or amplified by certain environmental conditions. This makes it all the more important to closely examine what has happened to childhood over the last 20 years to see how we may have turned on the ADHD genes.

Giving Gifted Kids a Kinder Mirror

The latest ad in the Dove Real Beauty campaign is getting a fair amount of press. In it, a police forensic artist draws a picture of a woman based on the woman’s description of herself (he cannot see her). Then the artist draws the same woman based on a stranger’s description of her after having met and chatted with her briefly. The images clearly show that women can be their own worse critics and that strangers can sometimes see beauty in us that we miss.

The same is true for gifted children. The wrong environment can destroy a positive self-image. Highly, exceptionally, and profoundly gifted children are especially at risk. If their teachers don’t understand their intensity and asynchronous development they may not be respected or valued in class. They may get in trouble more, feel misunderstood, and start to incorporate the negative view their teacher has of them into their self concept. While their external appearance hasn’t changed, internally they may start to feel less engaged and uglier. If they have the misfortune of being in an educational environment where their teacher is giving them neutral to negative feedback and none of their classmates get their jokes, share their interests, or even just accept them, this can lead to a downward spiral.

Giftedness is a risk factor for depression, drug use, and suicide. Gifted children can feel alone and closed off from the world when they never get a chance to be with kids like them. In most of the sketches from the Dove campaign, the women’s faces and eyes are more open and interactive in the pictures created based on the stranger’s description. Perhaps this is in part because the women faces were actually different when they were chatting with the stranger. A friendly conversation, with smiles, laughter, and eye contact can animate and positively transform anyone’s face. Perhaps this isn’t just about women’s or gifted children’s less than optimal view of themselves. Perhaps the women saw themselves as they are when they are alone, staring into a mirror and not connecting with anyone. The strangers saw them as they are when a friendly person takes the time to chat with them, engage them, and value them. Gifted children need to feel treasured in this way too.

Especially in elementary and middle school, gifted students need gifted programs not just to help them excel academically. They need gifted programs to help them form a positive self-image. Too often giftedness is narrowly defined by academic achievement or potential. The emotional piece, which can make gifted children feel more passionate than the average kid their age and hyper-aware of not quite fitting in socially, is as important. It is easier for a gifted learner to fill in missing academic pieces than to change the story they tell themselves about their place in the world, who values them, and why. If we just focus on academics, we may accidentally give gifted children the impressing that they are their achievements and nothing more. This is one of the reasons we need special programs for the highly gifted. Good programs aren’t just about academics or enrichments that could benefit any top student. Quality programs for highly gifted students take into account the whole person. They can transform a child who feels unattractive and out-of-place into a child that radiates confidence and self-acceptance.


Refocus on High-Stakes Educating, Not Testing

This morning in Minnesota, participating McDonalds offered a free breakfast to students in grades 3-11. Today is the first day of the high-stakes Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) and McDonalds was doing their part by trying to ensure students weren’t testing with the added distraction of empty stomachs.

In New York, students, parents, and teachers are especially stressed about testing this spring because their public schools have decided to test students on the new Common Core Standards, even though the standards have not yet made it into the curriculum. New York students will be tested on material they have not yet learned in class. This has led to after school and weekend test cram sessions which include test drills and the teaching of anxiety relief techniques. Formal test cram schools are thriving.

The Common Core Standards are specifically designed to make US students more competitive in the global economy. Especially when compared to other countries, we are still a nation at risk, ranking just 17th in the developed world for education. By testing students on the standards before they are incorporated into the curriculum, New York will know the weaknesses within their public education system. Hopefully they will use the information wisely.

Over the last several years, policy initiatives such as No Child Left Behind, have tried to improve US education and have widely missed the mark. We now have a competition between schools and school districts. We have allowed the results of high-stakes testing to determine distribution of the very limited resources allocated to education. We have rewarded schools and their administrators when their students performed well on the tests and punished them when the students performed poorly. This predictably has led to disturbing test cheating scandals and not much, if any, improvement in the actual education of US students.

We need to go back to the beginning to remember why we even have a public education system in the US. It is there to make us a better, more effective, more economically successful country. Your school, school district, and state is not, or should not be competing against my school, school district, and state for limited federal education dollars and resources. We, all of us, are competing against the world. Our students need to hold their own against students from Finland, South Korea, and Japan. We need testing to keep us honest about how we are doing compared to schooling around the world, not to pit schools against each other. The tests are more an indication of what is going on with our students, not our schools. Several factors influence results on standardized achievement tests including what is taught in school, a student’s innate intelligence, and a student’s out-of-school learning. Only one of these is under the control of teachers and schools.

In order to truly improve our schools globally we need to refocus on educating, not testing and:

  • Replace locally chosen tests with national standardized tests — ensuring that all students across the country are taking the same tests at the same time. Similar to administration of the Explore, ACT, and SAT tests. We must recognize that testing is not teaching and also limit the number of test and test prep days in a school year to less than 3.
  • Sever the ties between test scores and school funding, teacher salaries, and administrator salaries.
  • Recognize that hunger, poverty, stressful environments, and lack of upward mobility in the US contributes to poor educational outcomes. If we want to do better as a country, we need to stop viewing schools in isolation.
  • Attract better students to the teaching profession by making teaching a higher paid, more intellectually challenging and respected profession. Teaching colleges should be tougher to get into and classes in them more challenging.
  • Create national investigative teams to study schools and communities to determine how to improve educational outcomes. The national test score results will show which communities to study because their students score either significantly above or below the norm.
  • Study what has worked in the top global educational systems and then copy them.

There is no quick fix for the US education system. Nations whose students out perform US students have cultures that value education and teachers in a way that perhaps we do not in the US. We can change this though. The more we understand about student success and effective teaching techniques, the better chance we have to develop globally competitive students.



Stimulants for ADHD don’t improve long-term outcomes – Coursera – ADHD – Week 4

I am now 1/3 of the way through the class and overall I’ve really enjoyed it. The course description estimated the workload at 2-4 hours per week and that has been correct. The TA’s have done a good job responding to questions about the weekly quizzes and making changes when there is a consensus that a question had confusing wording. This week they are adding another unique feature for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) — office hours!  We can submit questions to the professor and Friday he will answer as many as he can.

This week we explored the neuro-imaging of ADHD. Although there are differences seen in PET and fMRI scans in adults with ADHD versus adults without ADHD, neuro-imaging cannot be used to diagnose ADHD. Looking at ADHD from a parenting or educator lens, here is the information I found most relevant.

First, while maximum brain volume is typically reached by age 16 for all children, those diagnosed with ADHD show about a 3-year lag in brain development. This is most likely one of the reasons they seem less mature than their classmates. Once their brains are fully developed at about age 16, people who have ADHD still show smaller and less active orbital-prefrontal cortexes, basal ganglias, and cerebellums. The size difference of these regions compared to a more typical brain is directly correlated with how sever the ADHD symptoms are in a given person. Individuals diagnosed with ADHD also show lower levels of dopamine transporters in the brain’s reward center. Although the lecture didn’t cover it, I suspect that an impaired reward system is one of the reasons some ADHD individuals are susceptible to drug abuse and addition.

One area of brain anatomy and function covered in-depth for the first time this week is the role of the anterior cingulate cortex. Individuals with ADHD have less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex than more neuro-typical people and this can significantly impair their performance. The anterior cingulate cortex is an essential part of the cognitive and emotional executive attention system and has a role in emotion, motivation, timing, focused attention, willed motor control, working memory, pain, error detection, reward, monitoring, and feedback-mediated decision-making. One of these, working memory, is explicitly tested for in IQ tests such as the Stanford-Binet and some researchers feel that working memory is more important than IQ when predicting overall achievement. A child may be highly gifted but not perform as expected if their working memory (and attention for that matter) is less than ideal. Although some high-energy gifted kids are incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD, there is most likely another group of gifted kids that are not recognized as being gifted or having ADHD because their performance is average and their behavior isn’t annoying enough for the adults to suspect ADHD.

So what effect do drugs, especially methylphenidate, have on brain function and anatomy as viewed with neuro-imaging? They definitely increase brain activity while they are in the system, however, they do not change brain structure. The medications can help a child improve their classroom behavior, performance, and teacher and peer interactions in the short-term. Yet psychostimulants do not seem to create long-term changes in outcomes for peer relationships, social skills, academic skills, or school achievement. This little tidbit, buried at the top of page 146 of the 1999 Surgeon General’s report on ADHD, assigned for our week 5 reading, sent me on a search for more studies and more information.

If ADHD medicine is only a short-term fix, why are we drugging our kids’s developing brains? Aren’t there other ways to change their behavior?  And if their symptoms are so bad, why is it common to just prescribe drugs without also helping them with behavioral techniques? The combined treatment of drugs plus behavior modification has better results than just treatment with drugs alone. The drugs may make a child more attentive, less impulsive, and less disruptive but they have no effect on academic achievement. Just because a child is sitting still, better at completing homework, and easier to handle in class, does not mean that child is actually learning more. The lack of long-term improvement with the use of stimulant medication, combined with study results that indicate that they may increase depression in some children and have negative long-term cardiovascular implications, makes me question why they are prescribed so freely in the US. This in-depth, long-term view is beyond the scope of the Coursera class which is more focused on the basics of how ADHD is viewed, diagnosed, and treated by doctors today.

People with ADHD can have a more difficult time completing tasks and attending to directions, especially if they are not interested in or are bored by the subject matter. Our current view has classified ADHD as a disorder because of this impairment. What if evolutionarily speaking, this isn’t the case? What if ADHD tendencies are a different way for a perfectly normal brain to function and the ADHD brain is optimized in some other way that isn’t compatible with our current education system?

The most interesting part of the lecture this week, for me, was something I noticed on a brain scan that wasn’t directly addressed. The brain scan from a study on anterior cingulate cortex dysfunction in ADHD, left me with a strong desire for more research. In it we see differences in brain activity during a counting stroop task for individuals with “normal” brains vs individuals with diagnosed ADHD. The “normal” brain on the left shows the anterior cingulate (green rectangle) lit up with bright yellow and red activity while the ADHD brain on the right shows nothing going on in the anterior cingulated cortex but lots of activity in the frontal stratal, insular and thalamic network. The lecture highlighted the fact that ADHD individuals had to work harder and were slower at solving the task than were other individuals because they were solving the task with a less than ideal brain region. This begs the question, what are the ADHD individuals thinking about and what connections are they making? Clearly there is a lot of something going on in their brains, by colored area alone there is actually more activity than in the “normal” brain. Just because they can’t perform as well on the counting stroop task does not mean that this activity should be deemed suboptimal. See the images yourself on page 1547 of the study.

We know that studies of scans of men’s and women’s brains clearly show that men and women process information differently and use different areas of their brains to solve the same problems. We also know that men’s brains are, on average, larger than women’s brains. This does not mean that men are smarter or that one sex uses the more correct areas of their brains. Perhaps the same is true in people with ADHD. Individuals whose brains are more wired with ADHD tendencies may struggle with tasks that are easier for people with more typically wired brains but does this really mean that ADHD is a disorder?

Coming up the course will explore the neuroplasticity of the brain and interventions shown through neuro-imaging to improve brain functions in individuals with ADHD. Given the lack of proven long-term positive outcomes with drug therapy, I am looking forward to good data on behavioral interventions.




I am tired and crabby

and have low frustration tolerance.

Anyone who lives with highly, exceptionally, or profoundly gifted children has at least a passing familiarity with Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities. Regardless of whether they have ever heard of Dabrowski, they know that their children are frequently more intense, more sensitive, and more prone to meltdowns than other kids.

There are five documented forms of overexcitabilities in gifted children: psychomotor, sensory, intellectual, imaginational, and emotional. Various books from Living with Intensity to A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children have covered these intensities in detail. Not all children will have all of these but the more gifted a child is, the more likely it is that she or he will have energy, sensations, thoughts, and emotions that are just more than the average child. The intensities of the gifted child are part of his or her natural wiring. It is not something they grow out of as they grow older. We probably shouldn’t even call them overexcitabilities because that implies that gifted children are more excitable than they should be. Extra-excitability even superior-excitability would be a less derogatory way of labeling these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Gifted children need to learn to manage and thrive with their intensities. As parents and educators we need to help them on this journey.

Even when gifted children reach an age where they have the self-control to avoid a public scene, they still have the internal stress of their high energy, strong passions, and intense emotions. Add in some perfectionism, sibling annoyances, and lack of sleep and this stress can bubble over in the safety of home, creating crying fits, screaming matches, and hurt feelings. Because young gifted children do not realize that they are naturally more sensitive and more intense, they may have a tendency to blame others for their distress. If they are not blaming others, they may turn the negativity inward which can be even more destructive.

We need to help gifted children recognize their intensities. Unless they are reading up on raising gifted kids, behind our backs, they probably do not realize that they may be experiencing more than their friends and classmates. They also may not know that being tired, hungry, or emotionally exhausted makes their usual intensities more challenging. By understanding what it feels like when they are almost overwhelmed, they can learn to proactively engage in self care. While the world may not rearrange itself to cater to their sensitivities, gifted children can, on their own, take actions before things spiral out of control. They may need more sleep, better quality and more frequent snacks, and more regular exercise than the average child. They may also need to have quiet downtime when they can relax and reflect on their worlds. When adults recognize and validate this, gifted children can address their needs in a positive manner. Knowing that you are tired and crabby and can do something about it, is empowering.


Checking out Coursera – ADHD Class – Week 3

Well this has been quite the week for anyone interested in ADHD. As the New York Times reported on Sunday, the number of children diagnosed with ADHD has risen by 41% in the last decade. Clearly there is something going on here.  While this statistic has gotten a great deal of publicity, it seems to me people aren’t quite sure what to do with it. If other illnesses, say, cancer or cholera increased by 41% in 10 years there would be a massive mobilization on all fronts. We wouldn’t just treat symptoms. We would take a hard look at environmental factors. We wouldn’t assume that better screening was catching cases that have always been present. We would know that something radical had changed in the world of children that was causing them harm.

There is no definitive test for ADHD. There is no way to know, for sure, if we are catching cases that have always been present.  One hint may lie in the DSM-IV criteria for diagnosing ADHD which requires impairment caused by ADHD symptoms. In other words, if ADHD-type behavior and thinking causes no impairment for the individual, then there is no diagnosis.

Have we changed the environment and our expectations of children, especially boys under 10, significantly in the last 10 years? Is their world different enough that their normal, natural behavior is now an impediment to their success in school and life? Or, are they actually behaving differently and there is something vital to ideal development that has disappeared from the typical life of children, especially young children.

I would love to hear Dr. Rostain’s take on all the above questions. If this were a regular university class with live lectures, I am fairly certain that some of this week’s lecture would have been devoted to the recent CDC report. One of the major drawbacks of this type of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is that everything is prerecorded, and pre-formulated. While students have been discussing the latest statistics in the online forums, the instructor hasn’t officially given us his analysis of the data. Although it would increase the instructors’ workloads, I think MOOCs would benefit from weekly written or video blog posts by their instructors — tying the prerecorded course materials to recent headlines and perhaps to student concerns from the forums.

This week’s lecture and readings are about the neuroanatomy of ADHD. Although issues with the orbital prefrontal cortex and its control of working memory and executive functions get all the publicity, there are two other regions involved with ADHD. The basal ganglia, which is responsible for motor coordination and procedural knowledge, and the cerebellum, which controls movement and cognitive processes that require precise timing, are also affected. The three different types of ADHD, inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined, correspond with different levels of impairment in these three different brain regions. The lecture was dense with medical terms and brain anatomy and I’ll have to watch it a few more times.

There is a 3-10% reduction in the regional volumes of all three of these brain regions in people with ADHD. In people diagnosed with ADHD these regions work less effectively and efficiently. Now, here is the kicker, drugs increase the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in these areas to help them work better but they do not change the biology of the areas. They do not make these brain areas larger and only make them more effective on a temporary basis when the drugs are present. I suspect that although they can cause immediate relief from some ADHD symptoms, drugs are not the best way of treating ADHD, especially in young children with rapidly growing and changing brains.

We know from the London cab drivers study that our brains can physically grow to keep up with the demand to learn new and specialized information. Thomas Elbert’s study of the brains of violin players shows that our brains change to conform to the current needs and experiences of the individual. Changing our children’s environments and what they do with their time may help their brains, at least in some cases, literally grow out of ADHD. Personally I think that the decrease in recess and child-directed play, especially outside play, needs to be taken more seriously. The lowering of the age for teaching formal academics combined with the child abduction and molestation fears that keep kids supervised and inside have changed the childhood experience. Add in the rampant lack of sleep that can create ADHD-like symptoms and it is no wonder diagnoses of ADHD are increasing. Perhaps instead of increasingly medicating childhood we should bring back PLAY, and regular bedtimes.

Crime, Punishment, and the Gifted Child

One aspect of gifted parenting that I’m sure we are getting wrong as much as we are getting right is disciple and consequences. Highly, exceptionally, and profoundly gifted children operate at levels high above what is typical for their age in both their performance, and their ability to analyze situations. They also can be exceptionally volatile, extremely sensitive (especially if they are low on fuel or sleep), and typically they have asynchronous development.

From a parenting perspective this means that an older elementary school child may expect to be treated as an adult (or at least like the much older students who are his or her intellectual peers), may feel the deep moral injustices of the world (especially his or her world), may be able to negotiate and argue on the level of an average adult, and yet still throws temper tantrums that would put the average two-year-old to shame.

One of our chief jobs as parents is to prepare our children emotionally, intellectually, and morally to thrive in the world as adults. We need to guide them in learning good habits and help them understand that negative behaviors have unpleasant consequences. We also need them to realize that these consequences aren’t the end of the world. That throughout life, they will, at times, screw up and they will have to face the music. They need to learn to bounce back. Resilience and maintaining a positive attitude, despite things not working out the way you had hoped, are important for both career success and overall happiness.

Children who never have to deal with consequences for their actions, miss out on learning how to move forward after a setback. This is one of the tragedies of helicopter parenting. When we swoop in to save our kids, we cheat them out of learning how to survive and thrive in a world which is not always supportive and forgiving.

On the other end of the spectrum, if they feel a punishment is too severe, they can enter into an over-stressed catastrophizing mode where not only do they not learn the behavioral lesson you are trying to teach, they may fight more, shut down, or become depressed.

The tricky part from the parenting perspective is how to gauge what is an appropriate consequence for a highly sensitive child who is misbehaving. Especially if that child has intellectual ability and emotional control with a multi-year developmental difference. Do you punish them as you would a 3-year-old who exhibits the same behavior or like the 22-year-old who can understand the societal and moral reasons why their behavior is inappropriate?

As parents we rarely get it right. We vacillate from consequences that are so minor the kids fail to learn and change their future behavior to consequences that unexpectedly cause an over-the-top, crippling, emotional reaction. When either one of these happen we, as parents, have to learn and adjust. Consequences that were too weak are increased on the next infraction. Consequences that were too sever demand that we spend extra time working with our children — talking with them, one-on-one to help them put the consequences in context and develop resilience so they can move on. We sometimes need to help them understand that although their superior debating abilities will not make their parents change their minds (at least not most of the time), tomorrow is another day.