The Positive Traits of Oppositional Children

The Positive Traits of Oppositional Children

Many parents who have a child diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder feel overwhelmed and embarrassed. Their child tends to be the talk of the school because everyone knows him as the trouble maker. They also see other children listening to their parents while they know they face a daily struggle with their child. They feel ashamed because they wish their child could act like the other kids even just for a day.

I work with many of these kids in therapy and I encourage the parents not to feel ashamed. Yes the daily arguing and school calling can be overwhelming. However, the oppositional behavior is one part of their child. Also working with the child in psychotherapy can turn some of these negative traits into positive ones. Furthermore, from working with these children I have learned they do have some very positive traits that people tend to overlook. I encourage parents to be patient and be open to the idea that there are positive traits too.

If a child with ODD feels accepted and loved, you would be amazed at what you will discover. I have listed some of the positive traits below to help parents and others view children diagnosed with ODD with an open mind.


ODD kids can be extremely creative when it comes to getting what they want. The same adolescent girl who can’t solve the problem of how to deal with a sibling can design a plan to get out of a locked house when grounded that would impress Houdini.13-year-old Jack was mechanically gifted. He fought with his parents about everything from going to school to his choice of friends. But put him in front of a car, and he could fix even the toughest problem. Wanting to build on that strength, his parents finally gave in and purchased the old, rundown car he begged for. “He’ll never get it running,” said his father. Six months later, Jack was tooling around town in his “beater.” His law-abiding parents set the rule: no driving until you have a license! Jack, of course, drove it anyway. His parents came up with the idea of putting a “club” on the steering wheel, locking it in place. They were quite proud of their creativity until, a few months later, the car was parked just a little bit off center in the driveway. Jack had (very creatively) purchased a separate steering wheel, which he stashed in the woods. When mom and dad left, he simply removed the original steering wheel – club and all – replacing it with his spare and he was off and running. Was this a dangerous and defiant behavior? Absolutely. Were his parents frustrated at his level of defiance? Sure. But they learned to appreciate their son’s resourcefulness! Ten years later, Jack never has to pay a mechanic to fix his vehicles.

Determination and Strength

Kids with oppositional and defiant personalities are the most determined individuals you’ll ever meet. Some kids follow rather than lead, quickly complying with rules and traditions. Others “go with the flow,” rarely making waves for fear of disappointing others or possibly failing. ODD kids have none of these traits. Their motto: While you’re all paddling downstream, I prefer to swim upstream – it’s more challenging and interesting! And the more you oppose me on it, the more determined I’ll be to swim upstream.

15-year-old Lindsay argued daily with her parents, skipped school and often stayed out past curfew. She also had an unflinching love for animals. It became her mission to save as many lost, abandoned or abused animals that she possibly could. Her mother warned her constantly, “One of these days you’re going to get hurt. Stop picking up all these strays!” Friends and family were critical, saying her efforts were pointless. Since she couldn’t keep all the animals who needed her – it was against her mother’s rules and simply wasn’t possible as there were hundreds of them – she used her strengths of creativity and determination. She educated herself on how to safely rescue animals, minimizing the risks to herself as much as possible. She became connected to local animal rescues – some as far as a hundred miles away – that would care for the animals she found. When she couldn’t link with such resources immediately, she broke her mother’s rules and kept an animal in the garage for a day or two while she worked on a placement for it.

Lindsay’s determination was an endless frustration for her mom. But it led to hundreds of vulnerable and voiceless animals finding safe haven over the years. Today, as an adult, she is a noted animal advocate and has earned the admiration of those around her, including her mother. Many of us are determined but not all of us have the strength – and courage–to pursue our goals in the face of opposition from others.


ODD kids seem to live by the slogan, “I took the path less traveled.” Without them, just think of what we’d be missing in the entertainment world alone; many actors and vocalists have expressed childhoods that include skipping or dropping out of school, arguing with authority figures, stubbornness and even jail time. We love the James Deans, Jim Morrisons and Robert Downey Juniors of the world for the cultural icons they’ve become. The road they took was rough, but they didn’t get to icon status by being afraid to challenge norms. In her autobiography, environmental rights activist Erin Brockovich describes her “inner strength” as often the only thing she had going for her. The same strengths that got her through an adolescence filled with school struggles and a love for “the wild life,” empowered her to fight for the rights of others when many would have kept her quiet. Just because your teen isn’t well-known or famous doesn’t mean he or she isn’t a trailblazer. In fact, all oppositional and defiant kids are trailblazers, taking the path less traveled with a willingness to go against societal norms.

Promoters of Personal Growth

12-year-old Candace’s mom was a teacher in a prestigious school district. She was horrified when Candace began wearing clothes to school that she had literally picked up off her floor from the dirty laundry pile. One day Mom groaned in frustration, “The dog slept on her jeans the night before, and she wore them anyway!” If mom put a basket of neatly folded, clean clothes on the bed, Candace would simply wear the clothes she had on the day before, stains and all. Mom tried bribing Candace with expensive name-brand clothes. She begged her daughter, “Please wear clean clothes. You have no idea how embarrassing this is to me. People will think I’m a terrible mother. I teach in that school!” But Candace still rebelled. After months of daily arguing and shamefully avoiding the teacher’s lounge, mom finally gave up. “I just decided there was nothing I could do and that Candace’s choices were not a reflection of me. I can only dress myself in the morning.” Miraculously, the next week Candace began wearing clean clothes. Mom was astonished by her reply: “You always told me it doesn’t matter what people think of you and that your true friends will love you for who you are, not what you have or how you dress. You’re always saying that I shouldn’t judge others. I wanted to show you what a hypocrite you are.”Years later, Candace’s mom remembers how her daughter’s behavior really did lead her to personal growth. “She was right. I cared a lot—too much—about what others thought of us, and I did judge others. It’s a lesson I never forgot.”

Change the Behavior, Not the Child

Why are we telling you these stories and asking you to see the strengths in your child’s challenging personality? It’s because the bottom line in living with an ODD child is always fear and often insecurity. Whether it’s worrying about what others will think of him (or us), fear for that child’s safety or well-being, fear drives us to try and change the personality. In a meeting of multiple adults (teachers, social workers, parents and counselors), 15-year-old Billy shared, “I feel like you’re trying to change me. Not just my behavior – but me. Can’t you just accept me for who I am?” For parents of ODD kids, one of the hardest tasks we face can be accepting our child for who he is. It’s a constant lesson in learning to let go of trying to control someone we would give our lives to protect.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy.


The Abuse of ADHD Medications in High School

The Abuse of ADHD Medications in High School

Working with teenagers, I often have parents who are concerned about their teenager using marijuana or alcohol. Besides the concern that their teenager may be using there is the concern about their teenager becoming addicted. Besides marijuana and alcohol, parents are concerned about methamphetamine or heroin. While there is an epidemic of methamphetamine, heroin and opioid addiction, there is another drug parents need to be concerned about.

Methamphetamine is a very popular drug because it is easy to get and there are a number of ways to use it. Also many teenagers like the effect that they receive from methamphetamine. They get an adrenal rush and can stay up for days at times. Therefore, it makes it easier for them to get all their work done. Many teenagers are involved with numerous school activities, trying to maintain a good grade point average and want to spend time with their friends. They often find out that they don’t have enough energy to keep up with their schedule. The boost they receive from the methamphetamine helps them keep up and get everything done. However, buying methamphetamines can be a dangerous thing to do and if they are caught with methamphetamines, they are in a lot of trouble.

Many teenagers do not want to run the risk of being caught with or buying methamphetamines. Therefore, teenagers have found away around the risk, medications for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Most medications for ADHD such as Ritalin or Concerta are stimulant based. In other words, they contain a form of methamphetamine. Therefore, if a high school student who does not have ADHD takes Concerta, they experience the same effect as if they took methamphetamine such as cocaine. They get a burst of energy and can stay up all night so they can finish their work.

During finals, I hear many teenagers talk about taking Concerta or other ADHD drugs so they have the energy to study. Some teenagers will tell their parents they are having difficulties concentrating hoping their parents will take them to the physician so they can get a prescription for ADHD medication. On the other hand, teenagers who are suppose to be taking medication for ADHD often sell their medication. They can sell it very easily to friends at school and they can make good money too. Many of these teenagers feel they don’t need their medication so they are happy to sell it.

The buying and selling of ADHD medications on high school campuses is a daily occurrence. Most research studies indicate it starts in 8th grade and continues in high school. Many teenagers rely on ADHD medications to help them when they feel they are falling behind in school. Many teenagers see no problem using the ADHD medications because they were prescribed by a doctor. However, they were not prescribed to them. Therefore, the dosage they are taking may be too much for their body. Also I have seen teenagers combine these medications with energy drinks which have very large amounts of caffeine. I have had teenagers report they felt like their heart was going to come out of the chest because it was beating so fast. In addition, they also report not being able to sleep for days because they are wired.

This is a major danger when teenagers use ADHD medications to stay awake. They can become wired the same way as if they used cocaine or smoked methamphetamine. Also taking these ADHD medications opens the door to teenagers experimenting with such drugs as cocaine. They like the effect of the ADHD medication and wonder how other drugs may feel or may be they can no longer get the ADHD medication so they start experimenting. In fact, research indicates that teenagers who abuse ADHD medication are more likely to use methamphetamine or heroin.

In addition to opening the door to other drugs, they are risking their health and life. If they heart rate is racing and their blood pressure is rising they can induce a heart attack. Also parents may notice there is something wrong, but if they do not know their teenager has been taking ADHD medication, there is no way for a parent to tell a physician. Therefore, the teenager may not get the medical help they need. In addition to the physical symptoms, using too much methamphetamine can cause psychotic symptoms and the teenager may need to be hospitalized. The bottom line is just because the ADHD medication came from a pharmacy does not make it safe for everyone. I have included a link for parents which discusses the dangers and symptoms that parents need to be aware of regarding teenagers abusing ADHD medications

Hopefully, parents can take this information and discuss the situation with their teenagers. Encourage them that if they are feeling overwhelmed by school and life to talk to you not to turn to a drug. A drug will never solve the problem and more likely create more problems. Also let your teenager know all you expect is the best they can do naturally. You do not expect perfection.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating teenagers and children. He is a founding member of the National Advisory board for the Alive and Free program. For more information regarding Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website or his Facebook page

Teenagers and Gangs

Teenagers and Gangs

There are many ideas people have about gangs especially who they are and what they do. MS-13 is one of the biggest that people know about and have ideas about. Lisa Ling’s episode on CNN explains the myths and the truths about this gang.

For parents of teenagers it’s important that you watch this episode. You need to be aware of how this gang targets certain teenagers to join their gang. Most teenagers have no idea what they are getting into. However, once they are in the gang it is almost impossible to get out alive. Many teens who join do not feel accepted at home or school. They feel like they are failures at life. The gang gives them a sense of pride and acceptance. The attraction for the teenager is this gang will always accept them and it feels like love to them. Additionally, it gives them a sense of pride and they no longer feel like a failure.

While this is not true, a teenager who is desperate for acceptance and tired of feeling worthless is a teenager the gang targets. The gang is able to emotionally manipulate the teen because of the emotional pain the teenager is feeling. As a result, many teenagers find themselves committed to this gang and realize the reality to late. Trying to leave can cost them their lives so many teens resign themselves to a life as a gang member. Therefore, it is important for parents to know how these gangs operate so they can try to protect their teenager.

I have included a link to this show below. As a psychotherapist I hear teenagers discuss gangs and not understand what they are considering. However, with the help of family and professionals hopefully we can save some teenagers. Please watch this episode

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience working with teenagers. For more information about his work and private practice visit his website or Facebook page

Yelling at Your Teenager Never Works

Yelling at Your Teenager Never Works

Over the years I have had parents bring their teenagers to therapy because there is a great deal of yelling at home. I let parents know that yelling and arguing with a teenager never solves a problem. If yelling worked, parenting would be easy, wouldn’t it? We’d simply shout, “Do it!” and our kids would comply. But here’s the truth: yelling doesn’t work.

I tell parents that if screaming at your teenager, you give up your power and authority. A teenager’s brain is still developing. Therefore, while they make look like an adult, they do not have the cognitive or reasoning skills that adults do. Teenagers know how to argue and they know if they get you to scream they win. When you start screaming, you lose track of your initial point and the teenager can direct the argument in a way that benefits them. James Lehman MSW, who also works with teenagers, has noticed the same pattern and recommends the same approach.

When a parent tells me they’re yelling to get their teenager’s attention, I understand the frustration. Let’s face it, at times it is frustrating being a parent. And it can be frustrating being a teenager. And there are times that everyone yells. However, we do not want this to be the normal way you communicate with your teenager.

If you want your teenager to listen to you, you need a system in your home in which it becomes the teenager’s responsibility to listen to you. Here are five things you can start doing right away to stop the yelling and screaming:

1. Use Face-to-face Communication

When you talk to your child, look them in the eye—don’t yell from the kitchen. If you really want to communicate with your kids, turn off the electronics and talk to them face-to-face. Don’t yell up the stairs at them. And tell your child that this is the new plan. You can say:

“Hey Connor, I wanted to mention to you that from now on I’m going to come in and shut off the electronics when we talk. I’m also going to ask you to come downstairs so we can look at each other instead of yelling. That way, we can talk about things face-to-face.”

Be sure not to get stuck in a glaring and staring power struggle.

Face-to-face does not mean eye-to-eye.

2. Have a Positive Regard

Work on having positive regard. In other words, wear a positive look on your face when you talk to your child. Your expression should be calm rather than angry or frustrated. Believe me, children will read your face and immediately shut down if you look angry or frustrated.

I think it’s important for parents to realize that kids get agitated during emotionally-laden discussions, just like adults do. If your boss calls you in and tells you that you’re not going to get something you want, you feel upset and uncomfortable but you probably don’t scream. The difference in your reaction is that you have better coping skills than your child does and that you know it’s unacceptable behavior to scream.

I recommend that you work on wearing an expression that does not look angry or frustrated, even when you’re talking about something difficult with your child. There are studies that show that children get upwards of 70 percent of your meaning from the look on your face.

3. Use Structure

Time and time again, I’ve seen parents resort to yelling at their kids when they don’t have structure. Without structure, each day is different—and the plan is always geared toward what the parent wants (or allows) the child to do next. Requests then become personalized, which creates fertile ground for a power struggle to escalate quickly.

When you use structure in your home, you immediately have a way of de-personalizing requests. You can simply point to the schedule and say:

“6 p.m.—time to turn off electronics and do your homework.”

I actually recommend that you post it in a central location in your home, like the kitchen.

When kids have structure, they are far less likely to challenge every request you make. They may still moan and groan, but the focus has been taken off of you and placed on the structure you’ve set up.

4. Talk to Your Child about Yelling

I always suggest that you talk to your child ahead of time about any changes you’d like to see take place. Pick a nice day when things are going okay. Say:

“Hey Jessica, I think we’ve been yelling and shouting too much, and it’s just not helpful. I want to work on not doing that anymore. And if you start yelling, I’m going to turn around and walk away, and I’m not going to talk to you for 15 minutes.”

Say this simply and matter-of-factly. Don’t get into any deep discussions or spend a lot of time talking about it. I recommend that you keep it to two minutes. You don’t want to process anything or get into emotions. You just want to say it and then get on with your day.

5. Get out of the Argument

I think as a parent, once you’ve reached the stage where you’re in an argument with your child, your job is to get out of it as quickly as possible. The next time your child starts yelling at you, calmly say,

“Don’t talk to me that way. I don’t like it.”

Then turn around and walk away. That conversation is over for you, which stops the fight immediately. Know that when you leave the room, all the power leaves the room with you. Your child is left to yell at the empty walls. If your child has a tantrum anyway, that’s not your concern. You do not have to engage with him or stay there and watch it.

Set the Example

Finally, remember that for a child living in an environment where parents yell a lot, yelling becomes normal. Thus, a normal kid will learn how to yell back. After all, it seems like the appropriate response. Strive to establish an environment at home where yelling is not normal.

The truth is, the earlier we teach kids a broad repertoire of coping and problem-solving skills, the less yelling and acting out there will be. Appropriate coping skills include compliance, negotiating, and assertiveness. These skills can all be used effectively to circumvent the default mode of shouting and yelling.

I always recommend that parents make the decision to not yell—and really work on it. Believe me, the screaming matches in your home will die a natural death once you stop engaging in them.

I know what I am recommending is difficult. Especially because your teenager knows exactly what buttons to push. However, if you can stay calm, your teenager will not know what to do and you will be able to make your point without becoming so stressed and frustrated.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience working with children, teenagers and young adults. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his websites at or or his Facebook page

How High School Boys Act

How High School Boys Act

I posted this article a few days ago. However, over the past few days there have been some events that require me to add to and repost this article.

Over the past two years we have been hearing a lot about men in the entertainment industry and politics who have sexually harassed women and teenagers over the past years. As a result, women are feeling strong enough to come forward and tell everyone about the secrets they have been ashamed of for years. What does this tell us about our society? Also what message have children and teenagers been receiving about sexual assault and rape over the last 20 years?

Let me provide some facts about this issue. Every 98 seconds someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. One out of four females and one out of seven males will be sexually assaulted during their life time. Many people who are a victim of a sexual assault are children. Most victims do not report being assaulted or raped. They fail to report the incident because they are afraid no one will believe them and they fear having to prove it happened. For males, they are afraid that people will think they are gay and wanted it to happen. If they did not want it to happen, why did they allow it to occur? This idea that the victim wanted it is applied to women too (RAINN). The following link provides access to many more statistics about victims, their families, and the long term impacts and costs of sexual assaults

The nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court has once again brought this issue out of the shadows. A woman has accused the Judge and a friend of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were teenagers. While this subject may be uncomfortable to discuss, it is still part of our society and we need to address it. The woman who accused the Judge has kept her secret for 36 years. She was afraid of how people may judge her or blame her. Originally, there was this one accusation, however, this week another woman stated she was assaulted by the Judge while they were in college. Keeping a secret like this can create numerous emotional problems for the victim. In fact, many women who have been victims of sexual assaults or rape often commit suicide because they feel so ashamed. The month of September is dedicated to suicide prevention so this gives us another reason to discuss this issue.

Something else that I heard this week is “many high school boys have done the same thing.” It is not true and even if it was, does it make it acceptable? This statement implies girls safety is not that important and is very insulting to young men in high school. As a psychotherapist who works with high school boys, I have seen many who disagree that this is normal high school behavior. However, the fact that some people believe this statement allows sexual assaults to continue.

What this tells us about society is the old stereotype about how men should “act” is still a very big part of our society and we have continued to teach children the stereotype. This stereotype about what it takes to be “a man” was highlighted in the documentary, “The Mask You Live In.” The documentary discusses how the stereotype about what it takes to “be a man” impacts both boys and girls and discusses options for how to change the stereotype.

Basically the belief is “boys will be boys.” What this is telling boys is that to “be a man,” you must be sexually active. Also men do not need to worry about how they treat women sexually. The only thing men need to be concerned about is having sex. While this is the stereotype for men, girls are told they are not to be sexually active. If you think back to high school, a girl who was sexually active was considered to be “dirty.” However, the boys who were sexually active were considered, “men” and looked at in a positive manner. Another part of this stereotype is that women were not supposed to talk about sex. This was not “lady like.” Therefore, if they were sexually assaulted by a boy they could not say anything. If they did, they would be considered “bad girls” and looked at like prostitutes. So men had all the power and women had no power.

This stereotype hurts both boys and girls. It pressures boys to become sexually active even if the boy is not ready. Also it doesn’t allow boys to learn how to have healthy, mature relationships with girls. The stereotype also teaches girls to deny their sexual feelings and to look at themselves as just objects. They are not given the chance to develop self-esteem or to respect themselves and to insist that they be treated respectfully. This is not healthy for girls and it is not healthy for boys either.

Recently, a number of professionals who work with teenagers have been trying to change this stereotype. This was the point behind the documentary, “The Mask You Live In,” and such programs as Challenge Day and the program, Alive and Free. One of the goals of these programs is to teach boys that being sexually active does not make them a “man” and to respect girls. The other part of the goal is to teach girls it is normal for them to have sexual feelings, but they are not sex objects. No one has the right to force them to do anything sexual they do not want to. Also if someone does force them, a girl has the right to speak up without being labeled a prostitute.

Now that women are starting to speak up, it provides parents with an opportunity. It gives you the chance to speak to your teenager about sexual relationships. You can speak to your sons and daughters and educate them about what is appropriate and what in not appropriate. Also you can discuss with your teenager about what they think makes someone a man or a woman. You can help dispel this stereotype we have believed in for years.

As a society, it gives us the chance to support the women who are speaking up about past abuse they have experienced. It also gives us a chance to educate men that the old stereotype the learned is wrong. We can help re-educate men and for men who have been abusive provide them a chance to apologize and change their behavior.

I know this subject has upset many people. Women who have been sexually assaulted but have tried to deny it may be experiencing symptoms again as these feelings they buried re-emerge. Men who have sexually assaulted women may be experiencing feeling of guilt or fear of being exposed. However, instead of looking at this as a terrible situation. We can look at it as a chance to change a terrible situation that had existed in our society for years. It has also caused a great deal of harm to women and men. Yes men too. No one who has self-respect could abuse someone the way many women have been abused. Therefore, we have a chance to heal old wounds and prevent future ones from occurring. I encourage everyone use the opportunity we have been given.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist who specializes in treating teenagers and victims of sexual abuse. He has over 20 years of experience. For additional information about Dr. Rubino visit his website or follow him on Twitter @RubinoTherapy

Preventing Suicidal Feelings in Teenagers

Preventing Suicidal Feelings in Teenagers

Different months of the year are dedicated to different issues. For example, May is dedicated to Mental Health Care. This article discusses a number of reasons why teenagers have mental health issues and how we can help. Some of the issues I treat teenagers for are suicide, cutting, bullying, drug abuse, early sexual activity and poor performance at school. A number of these issues can lead to a teenager feeling suicidal. September is dedicated to suicide prevention. Suicide is the third leading cause for death for children 10 to 18 years old. If we are going to prevent suicide we must prevent the issues which can result in suicidal feelings and actions.

I have been working with teenagers for over 20 years. In those years I have seen many teenagers for many different reasons. However, when the teenager tells me why they are doing what they are doing, I often hear very similar answers for a number of different issues. It sounds odd and surprising, but when you look at it from the teenager’s point of view it makes sense.

What I have heard very often over the last 20 years is that the teenagers who are bullying, cutting, depressed, using drugs or having sex, do not feel loved by their families. In fact, they feel no one cares about them and no one cares how they feel or what they do. Therefore, they act out. They have decided negative attention is better than no attention. So if they are bullying someone, coming home high, threatening suicide or having sex, they will get attention for their negative behavior.

Furthermore, teens are now forming friendships with other teens who bully, use drugs, are suicidal or sexually active. This common bond makes them feel someone else understands and cares about them. This is how gangs form and pressure members to do things they usually would not do. The teenager feels they have a family and people who care about them. They are so desperate for love that they will do anything to stay as a gang member. They will do anything to avoid that lonely, empty feeling.

This really should not be surprising. We have seen and heard about this is in the popular media for years. The Disney movie, Frozen, mentions that people make poor choices and mistakes if they do not feel loved. The movies, The Breakfast Club & Good Will Hunting, both demonstrate the point of teens acting out and doing anything for friends so they feel loved. The play, West Side Story, is another good example. Also in her last show Oprah said that one thing she had learned is that everyone wants to know, “am I important to you, do you hear me, do you see me?.” The teenagers that I have worked with all tell me the same thing. Also it is amazing that when they test me enough and they see that I do care how they are willing to try to change.

The problem is that with society today everyone is concentrating on their own lives and they have little time to acknowledge the people around them. Parents are having to work two to three jobs to support their families. Parents assume that their teenagers will see how hard they are working and know their parents are working that hard because they love them. However, teenagers’ brains are not fully developed yet so their reasoning skills are not like an adult’s reasoning. Teenagers need to hear, I love you, from their parents and need one on one time with their parents.

Parents cannot be the only people letting teenagers know that they are important. We are asking too much of parents to be the only ones. Teachers need to show they care by staying after school to help teens who have questions or are confused or need to talk. We need to look at the movies, television and music that teenagers are listening to. Also we need to look at society. Society gives a message of looking at for number one. There are not a lot of role models encouraging teens to accept one another as they are and to support each. Look at the President and how he bullies and insults minorities, women and people who disagree with him on Twitter on a daily basis.

What is the answer? We need to change our priorities and tell our teenagers and children that we love them and care about them. Schools need to bring in programs such as Challenge Day which teach teenagers to accept each other and care for each other. We need to encourage our teenagers to follow the Harlem Globetrotter’s program. They refer to it as the ABC program. A is for being assertive, B is for being brave and C is for compassion. In other words, when you see someone being a bully or harassing someone, speak up and say it is wrong, report it and show the victim some compassion. If every time a teenager notices that someone in their class seems down and they ask the person if they are alright we can make a big change in these negative behaviors such as suicide, bullying and drug use. Also if parents ask their teenager how they are doing without judgement or fear of punishment we could change a lot of these negative statistics. Think about it, why would a teenager say yes I have been using drugs or cutting if they are afraid of getting into trouble?

Summing it up, if we are going to solve issues such as bullying, domestic violence, suicide and cutting to name a few, we need to all work together. We need to let people know that we care and show it. We also need to be brave enough and assertive and speak up when we notice someone being bullied or report when we have noticed someone vandalizing someone’s property. We need to provide teenagers with positive role models and insist that our schools use programs such as Challenge Day and Alive & Free. We all need to work together and speak up about things that are wrong if we want things to change.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist in private practice with over 20 years experience working with teenagers and children. He is considered an expert in the treatment of teens and children. For more information regarding his work or private practice visit his website or visit his Facebook page at

Who Are 2E Children?

Who Are 2E Children?

Many parents are very happy to hear that their child has been classified as “gifted.” They assume that their child will do very well in school and have a very bright future because they are “gifted.” While “gifted” children may excel in certain academic areas, often they have difficulties in other social situations or academic areas. These children are called twice exceptional children. Research by John Hopkins estimates that one out of five children are twice exceptional or 2E which is a more common term. Therefore, John Hopkins estimates that there are approximately 700,000 2E children in the United States.

Wikipedia defines 2E children in the following way:

A 2e child usually refers to a child who, alongside being considered gifted in comparison to same age-peers, is formally diagnosed with one or more disabilities. Although 2e can refer to any general disability, it is often used to refer to students with learning disabilities, although research is not limited to these areas, and a more holistic view of 2e can help move the field forward. The disabilities are varied: dyslexia, visual or auditory processing disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, sensory processing disorder, autism, Asperger syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, or any other disability interfering with the student’s ability to learn effectively in a traditional environment. The child might have a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or diagnoses of anxiety or depression.[6] Often children with 2e have multiple co-morbid disabilities than present as a paradox to many parents and educators.

Many people may find this hard to believe, however, as a psychotherapist who specializes in treating children and teenagers, I have seen many “gifted” children who do have the disabilities listed above. A common issue I have encountered is that “gifted” children often have difficulties making friends and dealing with social situations. If they had not been classified as “gifted”, parents would see that they do meet the criteria for Asperger’s Syndrome. Another common issue I have seen in psychotherapy with “gifted” children is that they have difficulties organizing their ideas and maintaining sustained attention. These children meet the criteria for ADHD.

One of the primary difficulties for these children is since they have been classified as “gifted,” many schools do not want to offer support services for a “gifted” child who has ADHD or a processing problem. Because they are not receiving the academic support they need, many of these children suffer with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. I have seen this many times with “gifted” children that I see for psychotherapy. It also creates a great deal of stress for the parents. They can see their child is having difficulties and the child is complaining about difficulties, but the school tells the parents the child is doing fine because they are “gifted.”

The research from John Hopkins University shows us that the two are not mutually exclusive. A child can be “gifted” in one area and have a learning disability in another area of life. Therefore, a “gifted” child may need a 504 plan or an individualized educational plan (IEP). Therefore, if you are the parent of a 2E child and you notice that your child is having difficulties at school, do not be afraid or nervous to advocate for your child. To make this easier, I have included a link which discusses misconceptions about 2E children, 7 Myths About Twice-Exceptional (2E) Students I am also providing a link to a newsletter for an organization which helps parents with 2E children and advocates for them,

If this sounds like your child do not panic. Arrange to have your child evaluated by a mental health clinician who is familiar with 2E children. They can help you develop a treatment plan and let you know if your child needs accommodations at school.

Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers. In fact, he specializes in treating children and teenagers. If you want to know more about Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice visit his website or his Facebook page\drrubino3.