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The Child Mind BlogBrainstorm

  • Adam Jeffrey Katz Memorial Lecture
    May 17, 2012 Child Mind Institute

    Yesterday was the 10th Annual Adam Jeffrey Katz Memorial Lecture at Hunter College's Kaye Playhouse in New York City. The two-part program, designed to raise awareness and educate the public about ADHD and dyslexia, was attended by over 500 people.

    Part one featured Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, co-chair of the Scientific Research Council and an expert on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Dr. Hinshaw's talk on ADHD covered everything from causes, public health policy, and the persistent stigma associated with the disorder to treatment possibilities and the effectiveness of stimulant medication. 

    The lecture was followed by a question and answer session with Dr. Harold Koplewicz, president of the Child Mind Institute, and Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer. Mr. Grazer spoke about the challenges of growing up with dyslexia. He attributed his successes to being resourceful and pushing himself harder in other aspects of his life. Ultimately, his message was one of resiliency and the importance of championing the successes of children with learning disorders.

    In his conversation with Dr. Koplewicz, Mr. Grazer described how his grandmother's belief in him set up conditions for his success in everything from reading to swimming to moviemaking, sounding much like a child treated at the Child Mind Institute might. "As much as all of the forces of reality, meaning empirical evidence, were showing that I wasn't, she was able to overpower me and make me believe that I was special," he said. "So any time I could have a success that was a unique success, I felt like Superman."

    View photos from the event:

    Read live-tweets from the event:

    The lecture began in 2002 in memory of Adam Katz, who struggled with ADHD and dyslexia. The Katz family created this living memorial to raise awareness about psychiatric and learning disorders. This event is made possible by the generosity of Ellen and Howard Katz.

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  • Psychopathy and Nine-Year-Olds
    May 15, 2012 Rachel Ehmke

    The most emailed article on the New York Times website right now is a story published in the magazine this weekend called "Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath?" The title is alarming, as are the real stories related in the piece, and you can see why so many people are riveted by it. In an odd coincidence, This American Life also reaired its psychopathy episode this weekend, making the subject unusually popular (if you don't count nights when Dexter is on TV.)

    The blunt answer to the question posed by the Times is no, you can't call a nine-year-old psychopathic since the DSM explicitly rejects anyone under 18. This is because psychiatrists and psychologists believe that children's minds are still malleable and continue to be shaped by a combination of biological and environmental factors even until young adulthood. As it is understood now, psychopathy—also called sociopathy but properly known as antisocial personality disorder in the DSM—is a label that can't be applied to a brain that is still developing. And while we all have some sociopathic characteristics, such as a tendency to lie and manipulate, or be impulsive and narcissistic, children can struggle in particular with these traits during their maturation, especially if they also have some other psychiatric disorder. According to a study by Lee Robins mentioned in the Times, almost 50 percent of the kids who scored high on antisocial qualities did not become psychopathic in their adulthood.

    That doesn't mean that some kids don't seem to make a good case for it. The Times story centers on Michael, a boy who scored nearly two standard deviation points outside the normal range for callous-unemotional behavior. Michael is manipulative and alarmingly canny for a nine-year-old. He also seems to lack empathy. His behavior is extreme and certainly indicates a problem, but whether that problem is budding psychopathy is still unclear. His parents have received a laundry list of diagnoses for him over the years, although none seemed to fit exactly.

    The tangled and complicated nature of psychiatric symptoms often makes getting a good diagnosis difficult. According to Dr. Alan Ravitz, a Child Mind Institute psychiatrist, what often appears to be antisocial and insensitive behavior is actually a manifestation of another psychiatric disorder. Dr. Ravitz says he has treated patients who seem to be sociopathic, but after treating their underlying disorder (depression, paranoia, oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD) the apparent sociopathy is gone. When I spoke to Dr. Ravitz he emphasized the importance of recognizing true antisocial personality disorder and applying the best resources available to treating it, but he noted, "I think we should be slow to diagnose sociopathy because it can sometimes be a stand-in for past failures in treatment. It can distract us from the real psychiatric disorder for which we already have effective treatment."

    Of course, the other piece to this story is how badly we need more research on antisocial personality disorder. Some work has already been done, but not enough. This is partially because psychopathy is incredibly rare, but it's also because it often leads to criminality. As a psychologist told the Times, "No one is sympathetic to the mother of a psychopath."

    But thoughtful media coverage is the enemy of stigma, and this article has inspired many supportive comments on the Times website. Hopefully the story will help humanize an often inhuman-seeming disorder. So many psychiatric disorders in children have proved responsive to early intervention that we can't stop pushing for some way to help these children and their desperate families.

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  • The TIME Breastfeeding Cover Brouhaha
    May 14, 2012 Caroline Miller

    It was quite the Mother's Day cover, a hot-looking young mom posing with a kid in camo pants nonchalantly standing on a chair, attached to his mother's breast. It didn't even need the provocative headline—"Are you mom enough?"—to cause a sensation (and of course be knocked off all over the web, with stand-ins for the mom from John Boehner to Steven Tyler). It's as if TIME magazine wanted to simultaneously offend those who might find the image tasteless and those who might find the parent-baiting offensive. A double whammy.

    The story itself revisited the pros and cons of what's called "attachment parenting," the extreme child-rearing philosophy that has been around for 20 years and has gradually worked its way, at least in watered-down form, into the mainstream. The three key tenets, writes TIME's Kate Pickert, "are breast-feeding (sometimes into toddlerhood), co-sleeping (inviting babies into the parental bed or pulling a bassinet alongside it) and 'baby wearing,' in which infants are literally attached to their mothers via slings." The theory is that the more time children spend in physical contact with their mothers in the first few years the more secure and happy they will be later.

    Time coverAs the story notes, this theory has been knocked about a great deal over the years, and there is no evidence whatsoever to back the notion that this literal closeness has any advantages for a child's development over other forms of parental love and attention. It's interesting to visit Dr. William Sears, now 72, who, with his wife Martha, hatched the philosophy, along with seven children of their own.

    Seems harmless enough, except for the obsessiveness with which it's being wielded in this era of perfection parenting—no effort is too great to create the ultimate child. If it's possible to be self-sacrificing and narcissistic at the same time, this would be one way to do it.

    Above all the story illustrates the downside of competitive parenting, with manifestos like this being used to achieve superiority over other families in which women don't choose, and/or can't afford, to be stay-at-home moms.

    As Donna Wick writes on the Freedom Institute's blog, it's important to resist letting passion for your children be manipulated into a judgmental stance about other parents. It's one of the things that makes parenting in the 21st century harder than it needs to be, whether or not you buy into attachment.

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  • Managing Behavior: Tips for Parents and Teachers
    May 11, 2012 Child Mind Institute

    Our second facebook event was a presentation by Dr. Melanie Fernandez where she presented tips and strategies for parents and teachers on managing difficult behvaior.

    If you missed our live facebook talk, you can view it here:

    Or download the slides here.

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  • Kids With Differences Face Outsized Challenges
    May 10, 2012 Lyn Pollard

    Last night I had the honor of attending a Speak Up for Kids talk, one of many that are taking place across the country in honor of Children's Mental Health Awareness week.  As a volunteer (and the parent of two kids with differences), I've been working with the Child Mind Institute and the Dallas Academy to both plan the event and to draw parents in my local community to it. 

    While the topic "A Parent's Guide to Bullying" drew parents and educators to the event, once we entered the Q&A session, the discussion quickly turned to our children with differences, who are often targeted by bullies. I was blown away by the honesty and reality of our discussion, and was reminded that I am not alone in this fight to provide my two children with an appropriate education in a safe learning environment.

    Parent after parent talked about how their child has been victimized, not just in the form of bullying, but by being denied appropriate accommodations and special education services on their child's public school campus.

    Dr Jen Crawley
    Dr. Jen Crawley at the Dallas Academy.

    One parent, a single mom and active military member, spoke through tears about how her extremely bright 7-year-old son is being "singled out" daily by his teacher due to his severe ADHD. He also has problems socializing, describes himself as "weird" and has been repeatedly bullied. Yet, after multiple meetings with both her campus and district administrators, she had not been provided with information about her child's rights under 504 or been informed about the possibility of an IDEA (special education) assessment to determine if her child is eligible for special services.

    Another parent, a former special education teacher, shared about how her 14-year-old son has been denied protection under IDEA. Despite having provided the school district with three separate doctor's reports stating that her son has Asperger's syndrome, her son's IDEA assessment showed that he "did not meet the eligibility criteria" for services. Also through tears this mom went on to describe how her son, a constant victim of bullying, ultimately "became the bully" when he began displaying aggressive behavior.  "What do I do?" she pleaded to our group, explaining that she has already pulled him out and had begun home-schooling.

    According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, kids with differences and special needs have a greater than 60% chance of being bullied. But, the statistic we don't hear is the one quantifying how many children in this country are not receiving the services they need for learning differences and special needs in our nation's schools, despite having both federal and state laws in place to protect them.

    I am hopeful that the Speak Up for Kids events will spark a larger conversation across our country about protecting our kids with differences.  However, it's going to take a lot more than talk to motivate our nation's leaders to address the concerns of parents who are begging for appropriate accommodations, services and protection for children who draw outside the lines, and are too often overlooked and underserved in our nation's schools.

    Perhaps the question is, when we speak up for kids, who is listening?

    Lyn Pollard, a mother and advocate, blogs at Different Doodles, among other outlets.

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  • Parenting in the Digital Age Tweetchat
    May 9, 2012 Child Mind Institute

    Yesterday, Dr. Ron Steingard was joined by Caroline Knorr, Parenting Editor of Common Sense Media for a tweet chat in honor of National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week. If you missed it, a partial transcript is below.

    #SpeakUpforKids Tweetchat 5/8

    Healthy parenting in the digital age with Dr. Ron Steingard and Caroline Knorr, Parenting Editor of Common Sense Media

    Storified by Child Mind Institute · Wed, May 09 2012 10:58:14

    Join us and @CommonSenseNews for #SpeakUpforKids Tweetchat TONIGHT 5/8 at 7PM ET: Parenting in the digital age. Ask q's at #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    Join @ChildMindDotOrg & @CommonSenseNews Tue 5/8 @ 7pm EST a special Tweetchat about Raising Healthy Children in a Digital World. #CMIchatNAMI Massachusetts
    Looking forward to joining @CarolineKnorr and @ChildMindDotOrg @ 7pm EST to chat about raising healthy children in a digital world. #CMIchatCommon Sense Media
    Right now, @ChildMindDotOrg and @CommonSenseNews are hosting a tweetchat about parenting in the digital age. Tweet Q's w/hashtag #CMIchat!HuffPost Parents
    Welcome everyone to the Parenting 2.0 tweetchat: Parenting healthy children in the digital world. Who's here? #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    Getting ready to join @childminddotorg for a chat about digital parenting. Join us! #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    Hi, this is Dr. Ron Steingard of the Child Mind Institute. Thank you for joining us. #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    @ChildMindDotOrg We're here and happy to chat about one of our favorite topics! #cmichatCommon Sense Media
    We're here in #CMIchat, ready for an interesting discussion on parenting in the digital age. #CMIchatThe Balanced Mind
    Also looking forward to it! #CMIchat #cmichatKaitlin Bell Barnett
    Welcome everyone. We'll be throwing out some topics for discussion. Please feel free to chime in and ask questions. #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    Q1: What are some of the aspects of social media that worry you the most? Do you talk to your kids about them? #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    I worry that kids post things impulsively without thinking them through. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    @ChildMindDotOrg Following @CarolineKnorr's answer, some social networking tips for parents -- written by her! #cmichatCommon Sense Media
    We're concerned that kids sub social media for real relationships.#CMIchatFreedom Institute
    @Freedom10022 That's a legit concern. What parents need to do is engage with kids so it isn't sub for social interaction #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    @ChildMindDotOrg what do you think is the biggest challenge for our kids in the digital world? #CMIchatAutismWonderland
    @LaliQuin Biggest challenge is teaching kids to use social media in a safe way #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    Kids definitely incorporate their online relationships into their "real" lives. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    A lot of parents I've talked to worry that kids can't make real phone calls anymore because they only text. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    @CarolineKnorr not only that but their spelling skills suffer as well. #CMIchatFreedom Institute
    And what do parents worry is lost if kids aren't making phone calls? Subtlety of tone/more sophisticated social skills? #cmichatKaitlin Bell Barnett
    @kbellbarnett What's absent is tone of voice and nuances of communication that are important as you develop. #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    Teaching children the consequence of words--spoken and written #CMIchatBellybum Boutique
    We should set examples fur our kids. The way we interact with media is the way they will interact with media. #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    @ChildMindDotOrg Absolutely agree! It's up to us as parents/educators to help kids navigate the online world safely/respectfully. #cmichatCommon Sense Media
    How about the way they would interact in media should reflect the way they should interact in person? #CMIchatBellybum Boutique
    @BellybumMom It should be respectful. It creates a shield of anonymity, but what is said online should be the same as in person. #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    I totally agree that we are our media role models. I really have to fight to resist checking my email ... but I do try! #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    @CarolineKnorr so true. Must show your kids by example how to "unplug." #CMIchatMyMomShops
    I even think that you can get kids to play out their favorite video game characters or games in their pretend play. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    What is the appropriate age for a child to have a Facebook account? My daughter is 12 going on 35 #CMIchatStellaMarieJK
    @StellaMarieJK Facebook says 13, but that is young. At that age, heavy parent involvement is key. #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    12 going on 35. LOL Heavy parental involvement is definitely key. Kids also get social pressure to join facebook. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    So many kids join facebook without their parents knowing. And many parents don't know the age is supposed to be 13. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    She makes me feel 40 going on ancient. Do you have tips or tools that you can point me to? I worry about maintaining trust. #CMIchatStellaMarieJK
    How do I help my kids understand privacy? Thoughts and pics posted stick around. #cmichatJBeanWakeman
    Privacy issues are huge! There is personal privacy and consumer privacy. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    As far as privacy goes, explain to kids that they are responsible for their own privacy and their online reputation. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    @JBeanWakeman We have some tips for protecting personal privacy online - why it matters and what to do: #cmichatCommon Sense Media
    @ChildMindDotOrg @laliquin it is esp. a challenge for our kids to stay safe online bc they have harder time reading social cues. #CMIchatMyMomShops
    @mymomshops very much agree with this. #CMIchatThe Balanced Mind
    A1: I don't have children but when I do I will definite be monitoring their computer time #cmichatFi of Approach2link
    Explain to kids that they should "self-reflect before they self-reveal." #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    Trust is really a big issue, because think that their digital devices and their online accounts are sacred ground -- no parents. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    #CMIchat FYI...FBI has a website that gives parents ideas how to keep their children safe onlineElise Ronan
    #CMIchat also check your state laws concerning cyber bullying and state Ed laws too. Every state Is diff.Elise Ronan
    Q2: Do you have worries about the amount of media kids consume? How do you set limits with your kids? #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    We choose our battles, honestly.Often, for parents of kids with diagnoses, overconsumption of media is one we choose to just let go #CMIchatThe Balanced Mind
    @thebalancedmind totally agree! #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    @thebalancedmind Totally agree abt choosing battles- this one is often not worth fighting. #CMIchatMyMomShops
    it's key to set limits before your kids go online. I even set a timer for 30 minutes and when it rings, computer time is over. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    Going back to the way online life and real life intersect -- sometimes this can be very healthy for kids. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    It helps reinforce their social lives. But again, it's so important for parents to have a pretty good sense of what kids are doing. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    I have to say my latest concern is that I've noticed kids get their news from YouTube. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    Kids turn to YouTube for news and information -- and a lot of it is not age-appropriate. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    @CarolineKnorr Nor is it necessarily accurate. #cmichatFreedom Institute
    @Freedom10022 good point. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    So much that gets attention on youtube seems to be highly sexual. I want to be able to balance that with healthy messages for girls #cmichatStellaMarieJK
    @StellaMarieJK Agree that this is so important. #cmichatCommon Sense Media
    @ChildMindDotOrg I do love our iPad but we use it to help my son interact with us not as a babysitter :) #CMIchatAutismWonderland
    @LaliQuin Exactly! Use it to facilitate and not replace interaction. #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    @ChildMindDotOrg the iPad has helped so much! It really brought out so much language & social interaction #CMIchatAutismWonderland
    @ChildMindDotOrg Do we know why an iPad is so engaging to a young mind as opposed to real play? #CMIchatFreedom Institute
    @ChildMindDotOrg The difficulty is just as reading & writing r important So is learning to navigat Technology. #CMIchatNaomi Perks
    @maybe2mrrow We agree. This type of education should be in every classroom; it's as important as learning ABC's! CC @CommonSenseEdu #cmichatCommon Sense Media
    The concern is that over-consumption turns into total immersion. It is impt to maintain time to interact and assist social dev. #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    Agree that learning to navigate technology and developing a sense of responsibility are so essential for our kids. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    @ChildMindDotOrg If there are concerns check out @CommonSenseEdu; free curriculum to address all these issues! #cmichatCommon Sense Media
    @kbellbarnett Funny that games/tv now feel nea-harmless compared to people-intensive, 24-7 online world full of unknown quantities #CMIchatThe Balanced Mind
    @kbellbarnett (Extra-firm ideally. But media consumption lower priority than education, health instability, etc. Forced to let go.) #CMIchatThe Balanced Mind
    @thebalancedmind Absolutely! What I was trying to express in previous tweet-sorry if not enough characters! #cmichatKaitlin Bell Barnett
    The social media world is just so overwhelming and nearly impossible to control, so we say, just try to "manage" it. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    I think we need a dictionary for parents. this stuff has a language all its own and my daughter seems to know it already! #cmichatStellaMarieJK
    Q3: Has there been concerns in your family about peer pressure, body image issues and cyberbullying online? #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    Pew study says 88% of social media-using teens have witnessed other people be mean or cruel on social network sites. #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    And 15% of social media-using teens say they have been the target of online meanness. #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    But teens are also reporting that they are more likely to stand up for a friend who is being bullied. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    @childminddotorg can u please define "mean?" #CMIchatFreedom Institute
    @Freedom10022 they defined it as "cruel behavior" #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    We urge parents to teach kids to "stand up, not stand by." #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    Does anyone feel there are benefits to technology and social media? #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    Oh absolutely there are benefits. But we need to find the good stuff and help our kids use it responsibly. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    65% of social media-using teens have had an experience on a social network site that made them feel good abt themselves. #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    @ChildMindDotOrg Absolutely. The potential for connectivity, civic engagement, giving kids and people a real voice and platform. #cmichatJim Steyer
    @jimsteyer @ChildMindDotOrg excellent point. Adolescent advocacy is largely born from social media. #CMIchatFreedom Institute
    @ChildMindDotOrg Absolutely. In the purest sense, the world is smaller and its richness more accessible. #CMIchatFreedom Institute
    Canbe good place to model,try on "different self"; make growth possible for kids when "real life" is constricts.(idea of @sturkle) #CMIchatThe Balanced Mind
    (Pitfalls inherent in this. Emphasis still should be on knowing who kids are talking to, and what. Too much #ana, neg modeling.) #CMIchatThe Balanced Mind
    yes, kids get a lot out of social media, for sure. and learning to use it responsibly will help them all their lives. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    I am probably just overwhelmed by the task ahead of me, but what's good? Do you have recommendations? #cmichatStellaMarieJK
    @StellaMarieJK recommendations for social media or specific programs? #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    @carolinekorr who or what she should follow. good games. activities on facebook that are good for teens but also fun. #cmichatStellaMarieJK
    Some video games, too, can help kids feel more empowered -- as they assume different characters. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    Active games, too, like ones on the Kinect, Wii, and Move can help kids get more physically active and comfortable in their bodies. #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    @StellaMarieJK Visit our recommendations page -here's the one for apps: #cmichatCaroline Knorr
    Q4: How do you set rules about consumption? How do you enforce these rules when your kid is at school or at a friend's house? #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    @ChildMindDotOrg Enforcing rules is tough when kids are away from you but here's some parent tips for that! #cmichatCommon Sense Media
    Thank you everyone who joined us today. Please visit for tips and tools on parenting. #CMIchatChild Mind Institute
    Thank you all! Good chat! #CMIchatThe Balanced Mind
    @ChildMindDotOrg thank you for raising awareness & for all that you do for our kids. #SpeakUpForKids #CMIchatAutismWonderland
    @ChildMindDotOrg Thanks for organizing this! So great to hear perspectives from so many. Great questions too. #cmichatCommon Sense Media
    Thank you all. Love the community these tools can bring! #CMIchatFreedom Institute
    @ChildMindDotOrg For those interested, our CEO @Jimsteyer published a book out today! Talking Back to Facebook. Great parent tips! #cmichatCommon Sense Media
    Just engaged in my first TweetChat. Holla! #CMIchatKathryn Hecht

    Also join us for: A live Facebook talk on Friday, May 11th with Dr. Melanie Fernandez presenting "The Difficult Child: Managing Behavior."

    View the full event details for more about the Tweetchat.

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  • Dr. Bubrick Speaks Up for Anxious Kids
    May 8, 2012 Harry Kimball

    Yesterday, as part of Speak Up for Kids, Dr. Jerry Bubrick gave a talk at the 92nd St. Y in New York, just as hundreds of other mental health professionals are doing nationwide. Dr. Bubrick, director of the Child Mind Institute's Anxiety and Mood Disorders Center, focused on the dos and don'ts of childhood anxiety disorders—how do we know when to intervene? And what's the best way to help a child who is in distress?

    Anxiety in children, whatever the cause or specific disorder, is a problem when it impairs a child's ability to do everyday things, when it is pervasive and out of proportion, when it is difficult for a child to recover from, and particularly when it leads to avoidance. Avoidance can be defined roughly as dramatic changes in habit or routine for the express purpose of skirting anxiety-provoking situations. While we want to temper the impairing effects of an anxiety disorder, Dr. Bubrick told the attendees, anxiety itself is not really the enemy.

    92 street Y "Anxiety is actually a good thing," Dr. Bubrick said. "It is protective and adaptive, and it helps us be successful. We don't ever want to 'cure' anxiety—we want to manage it." For parents, teachers, and professionals, that means first thinking about their own responses, and their desire to keep kids from suffering. A parent who shields a child from anxious situationswho enables avoidanceis perfectly understandable, said Dr. Bubrick. "There are good intentions there, but the whole idea of not allowing our kids to feel anxiety actually hurts them more than it helps them."

    Instead, continued Dr. Bubrick, adults need to encourage the development of more functional coping skills. "We don't want to eliminate the stress; we want to figure out ways to help kids cope with it. We want to reward them for trying to those things they are anxious about, rather than trying to pull them away from them." One way of encouraging this "engagement" with their anxiety is setting up a reward system that brings kids more frequently into distressing situations with continual support.

    "Jump into the water on a cold day, and you feel cold for awhile before you adjust," Dr. Bubrick said. "The same thing happens with anxiety. If we allow our kids to experience anxiety without pushing it away, without trying to avoid it, they actually learn how to adapt to it and overcome it."

    The audience included concerned parents, mental health professionals, and educators who all had questions for Dr. Bubrick covering a wide variety of subjects. Fretta Reitzes, director, of the 92nd Street Y Goldman Center for Youth & Family, said that the collaboration between professionals and parents and teachers is representative of the Y's mission and demonstrates why the Y and the Child Mind Institute are a "good fit." She is happy that we can all work together to "spread the word."

    You can help too! Please join us at our online events this week, and at another 92 Y talk this Thursday evening at 7:30. Dr. Steven Dickstein will address raising children in the digital age in "Parenting 2.0."

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  • Maurice Sendak Sails Away at 83
    May 8, 2012 Harry Kimball

    When we heard that Maurice Sendak died today, at 83, my first thought was of all those teenagers obsessed with The Hunger Games and the rest of the current crop of post-apocalyptic young adult fiction. Not because Sendak wrote young-adult fiction—he'd have been appalled at that thoughtbut because for so many of those kids, Sendak's weird and wooly Wild Things were their first taste of the fictional dark side. Sendak was stunningly and unapologetically tuned into children's desire, and, indeed need, to acknowledge the feelings that make their world more fraught than we'd like to remember. And still, Where the Wild Things Are appears immortal. Few books I know of so consistently span generations in their appeal.

    Where does that appeal come from? "There's a cruelty to childhood, there's an anger," Sendak told the AP in 2009. "And I did not want to reduce Max to the trite image of the good little boy that you find in too many books."

    Where the Wild Things AreIn an interview with Stephen Colbert that aired earlier this year, Sendak managed to further elucidate his philosophy between a surprising number of one-liners and dyspeptic glee. (I heartily suggest watching it, though a predilection for Colbert's style of satire is probably a prerequisite.) In response to a leading comment from the comedian on the "simple" task of being a child, Sendak says: "There is something in this country that is so opposed to understanding the complexity of children. It's quite amazing." We have to agree. In his weird and wonderful way, Sendak never stopped speaking up for kids.

    Margalit Fox, in the New York Times obituary for Sendak, writes that he portrayed "a luminous world, at once lovely and dreadful, suspended between wakefulness and dreaming. In so doing, he was able to convey both the propulsive abandon and the pervasive melancholy of children's interior lives." This doesn't mean that he encouraged sadness or carelessness. But he plumbed the depths of the childhood psyche and found a mirror to reflect it. His books have this message for children: "I understand." 

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  • Speak Up for Kids Live
    May 7, 2012 Child Mind Institute

    We kicked off National Mental Health Awareness Week today with a live Speak Up for Kids webinar on our Facebook page. More than 300 people around the globe tuned in to Dr. Kurtz's talk, "Is It ADHD or Just Inattention?"

    If you missed it, you can watch it below.

    Or click here to download the slides from the talk.


    Also join us for:

    • A live tweetchat on Tuesday, May 8th with Common Sense Media and our expert, Dr. Ron Steingard on "Parenting 2.0: Parenting in the Digital Age."
    • A live Facebook talk will also take place on Friday, May 11th with Dr. Melanie Fernandez. She will present "The Difficult Child:  Managing Behavior."  

    Visit us on Facebook at and watch the talk live on the day of the event.

    View the full event details and other Speak Up for Kids events.

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  • Junior Seau and the Future of Football
    May 4, 2012 Rachel Ehmke

    In some ways, the worst thing about Junior Seau's suicide earlier this week was put into words by former Giants linebacker Harry Carson: "When I heard it, I have to say in the past I would have been shocked. But I'm not shocked anymore."

    Seau was a beloved player, known for his passion and for being on the 1994 San Diego Chargers team that won the AFC championship. Along with mourning there is obvious speculation that Seau may be yet another casualty of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease linked to concussions and characterized by dementia and depression.

    Seau's suicide was chillingly reminiscent of fellow former NFL player Dave Duerson who, like Seau, shot himself in the chest. Duerson also left a note requesting that his brain be given to the NFL's brain bank for evaluation, and researchers later confirmed that Duerson was indeed suffering from CTE. Seau's family has agreed to have his brain studied, too.

    But the list of professional football players who have committed suicide is increasingly horrifying; Carson, who says he still suffers the effects of concussions he sustained during his career, cited Andre Waters and Ray Easterling, who killed himself on April 19.

    We may find that Seau was suffering from CTE at the time of his death, or we may find that he wasn't. His suicide is a tragedy either way. And the connection between the disease and football is well established, and shouldn't be ignored. We are able to help people suffering from depression, but we can't undo the brain damage once it has happened. This is why it's important for us to focus on the children in upcoming generations who will be playing football: let's make sure they inherit the sport but not the disease.

    For a great memorial of Junior Seau, check out Deadspin's story "The Night Junior Seau Picked Up A Marine Captain's Tab And Serenaded Bar Patrons With A Ukulele".

    For more about concussions, read What Parents Should Know About Concussions.

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