Articles by Ellen Braaten, Co-Director

Ellen Braaten, Ph.D. is co-director of The MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, and director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program (LEAP) at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is also an associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. She is co-author of the book Bright Kids Who Can’t Keep Up, which was released in August 2014.

 To learn more about Ellen, or to contact her directly, please see Our Team.

What if My Child has Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

January 24, 2019

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What if My Child has Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

The first time I met Jacob’s mother, she came into my office in tears.  “You won’t like my son,” she said. “He is in the car in the parking lot and refusing to come in to see you, but this is nothing new. Yesterday he wouldn’t get dressed so I took him to Kindergarten in […]

What Does It Mean to Be “Gifted?”

December 27, 2018

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What Does It Mean to Be “Gifted?”

Giftedness. It’s such a loaded word. Almost all parents think their children are gifted. And in a sense, they’re right. Watching a child grow from an infant into a human who can read, complete math problems, and have friendships seems miraculous. No wonder many parents think this way. Most people use terms like “bright,” “gifted,” […]

Q+A: I Struggle with Anxiety and See It in My 7-Year Old. I’m Worried – What Should I Do?

December 17, 2018

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Q+A: I Struggle with Anxiety and See It in My 7-Year Old. I’m Worried – What Should I Do?

Question: I’ve struggled with anxiety my whole life and now I see my seven-year-old son struggle with it too. I’m worried about his future. Do you have any advice? Answer: It can be discouraging for many parents who struggled for years to overcome their own issues of anxiety, depression, or learning disabilities only to find similar issues […]

Playing the Insurance Game: When Is Testing Covered?

November 29, 2018

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Playing the Insurance Game: When Is Testing Covered?

John’s mom was perplexed. John’s teacher had suggested he be evaluated because he was having trouble learning to read and paying attention in class. John’s mom, Lisa, didn’t want to get the testing completed through the school system because Lisa’s friend recommended a psychologist, Dr. Lewis, who she said was “the best!” Lisa had felt […]

Q+A: Is My Son Hyperactive and Unfocused, or Just Being a Boy?

November 26, 2018

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Q+A: Is My Son Hyperactive and Unfocused, or Just Being a Boy?

Question: My child’s teacher told me that she’s worried about my son’s behavior at school. She said he’s hyperactive and unfocused. I think he’s just being a boy. I took him to our pediatrician who said we could wait and see before putting him on medication. I liked that idea. Is there anything wrong with […]

How Do You Measure Executive Function Skills in Kids?

November 20, 2018

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How Do You Measure Executive Function Skills in Kids?

Executive Functions is one of those “buzzy” terms that teachers use a lot these days. It’s a general term that refers to processes such as: planning organizational skills working memory focus – which includes not only the ability to focus and maintain one’s attention, but also ability to know where to focus one’s attention the […]

The Importance of Sleep for Kids’ Mental and Emotional Well-being

November 7, 2018

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The Importance of Sleep for Kids’ Mental and Emotional Well-being

I have a confession to make. I rarely get enough sleep. I know it’s important for me, but too often life gets in the way. I’m not alone. Most adults don’t get enough sleep, and this can be particularly true for parents who are juggling multiple tasks and role expectations. Unfortunately, too little sleep isn’t […]

Q+A: Are Behavioral Issues Among Kids as Common as They Seem?

October 29, 2018

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Q+A: Are Behavioral Issues Among Kids as Common as They Seem?

Question: It seems like every child these days has some kind of problem. ADHD. Anxiety. Depression. Are these things as common as they seem? Answer: Are behavioral challenges among children as common as they seem? Well, it’s difficult to say because the line between normal and abnormal behavior is often a matter of degree. That […]

Sexting And Young Teens

September 19, 2018

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Sexting And Young Teens

Previous research has found that about 1 in 4 young teens admits to “sexting”—the sending of nude or semi-nude images or sexually explicit messages over an electronic device such as a mobile phone. A study from Rhode Island Hospital’s Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center examined these behaviors in younger adolescents aged 12 to 14 years. The […]

What is Working Memory?

September 11, 2018

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What is Working Memory?

The ability to have and recall memories is what makes us unique individuals. Each of us has a distinct and irreplaceable store of information that affects our feelings, perceptions, and opinions. In general, memory is our ability to use information from the past in the present.  There are at least three important aspects of memory:  […]