Skipping Grades for Gifted Children

The American school system puts students in grades based on age. However, for a some students, being with same-age peers in the classroom might not be the best option. Dr. Susan Assouline discusses her work as an expert in ‘academic acceleration’:

One effective way to help talented students remain intellectually challenged and engaged in school is to have them skip a grade. Research shows that about 1 percent of students grade-skip. Students can skip grades at any level, and they can even skip multiple grades. Grade-skipping has led to many concerns. In particular, concerns have been raised related to students’ social adjustment and emotional health.

We are scholars of gifted education. Our research – A Nation Empowered – shows many advantages to grade-skipping for talented students. However, students skipping grades need to be socially and emotionally ready for it.”  – Dr. Susan Assouline 

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Matt talks with Dr Susan Assouline, director of the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. Dr. Assouline earned her PhD in Education at the University of Iowa where she is currently a Professor of Psychology.

Why Parents Let Their Kids Bully Them

What’s a common day in your house look like? Does it involve putting off your children manipulating you into giving them “one more ice cream cone”, and if you don’t they scream and shout? According to Dr. Sean Grover, if that’s the case, you need to stop letting your kids take advantage of you, and put an end to the grueling cycle of kids’ bulling their parents:

“When I examined the personal histories of parents whose children bully them, I discovered that these parents tended to have been bullied by their parents as well. The culture of bullying is often passed on from one generation to the next. Parents who were bullied as children remain victims of bullying, only now their children are the perpetrators.

Parents who were bullied by their parents may overcompensate with their own children by being too permissive. For example, adults who grow up in homes with overly strict parents tend to be very liberal with their kids. They set out to undo their own history by giving their children the freedom that they were denied. These parents often vow in their youth, “When I grow up, I won’t treat my kids the way I was treated.” -Dr. Sean Grover 

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Matt talks with Dr. Sean Grover, a psychotherapist and author of the book WHEN KIDS CALL THE SHOTS: How to Seize Control from Your Darling Bully – and Enjoy Parenting Again. Dr. Grover has worked with parents and children for over 20 years, and maintains one of the largest group therapy practices in the United States. More and more parents these days don’t realize they are actually letting their own children bully them and fill their homes with screaming, kicking, and floods of tears. Dr. Grover teachs us how to reassert our roles as parents.

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Instilling Grit in Kids

Why is America so obsessed with making sure we instil grit in out kids today? Dr. Paige Gray joins the Matt Townsend Show to illustrate why we want to make sure our kids our tough:

“As someone who specializes in children’s literature and cultural attitudes toward childhood, I’ve been interested in this insistence on fostering grit. I’ve also taught writing and literature over the past year to West Point cadets, who, it seems, must learn how to acquire this somewhat elusive quality. But I can’t help but wonder if we’re talking about grit in an unproductive way. And maybe one of the problems is that it’s presented as a concept: abstract, indeterminate and somewhat magical or mysterious.How can we define grit, or the idea behind it, in a way that means something? What if we’re not framing the discussion of grit in the right way, since grit can mean something entirely different for a kid living in the Chicago’s South Side than it does for a kid living in the suburbs?” -Dr. Paige Gray

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Matt talks with Dr. Paige Gray, who is currently teach media and literature at Fort Lewis College and advising the student publication. Her research considers the intersection between children’s literature and journalism. She’s a published journalist and academic with a forthcoming article in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly. She also has articles in Children’s Literature and Bookbird. America is built upon the achievements of those who had true grit. But Children’s Literature expert Paige Gray warns that America’s near obsession with grit might have some potential pitfalls. Dr. Gray discusses her article “What’s behind America’s insistence on instilling grit in kids?”

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How to Talk to Your Kids About Money- When You Have a Lot of It

Some topics are really difficult to bring up when you talk to your kids- one of those is money. “Dad, what do you do for a living?” “Mom, are we rich?” These questions can leave us stumbling over our words when we try to give correct answers. John Christianson gives us tips on how to best approach this subject:

“Where I think we struggle as parents, and from my own experience, it takes a great amount of introspection to understand where you’re coming from. As you’re communicating this, what is the expectation that your kids can expect? From cars to allowances, you need to find the playing field, and you need to know the boundaries of what you expect, and what your kids are going to expect. Make sure your kids are taking seriously what you pay for them- from guitar, to soccer lessons, to anything in between, make sure your kids understand that you are not just a limitless resource of money for your kids. Let them know how much it is, and ask them if it’s something they really want, especially if they had to pay for it on their own.” -John Christianson

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Dr. Matt talks with John Christianson, Founder and CEO of Highland.  Money can be a difficult topic to discuss with our children. John comes on the Matt Townsend show today to help all of us parents learn how to talk to our kids about money, and how to answer their never-ending questions about the financial situation of our lives.


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Allowing your Children to Fail

Ever seen or heard someone who sounded like a “helicopter parent”?  It’s all too easy to overshadow your kids with too much concern and too much help. Jessica Lahey says that when you back off, you’re giving your kids a chance to succeed or fail, which is the best thing you can do for them:

“I think a lot of it comes down to temperament. There’s a lot of research done on children who have parents who are highly directive, and guide them in every step of their lives. Those children usually end up with ‘learned helplessness’, or they choose to be helpless because they know mom and dad will always be there to rescue them. Those kids don’t develop the ability to push through hard times. When you take those parents away from those kids, they’re a lot less likely to push through problems because they’ve never had to develop that skill. The kids who succeed the most are those who have parents that are there for them, but they aren’t directing them in every little thing. They let them make their own mistakes, and through trial and error, they are able to overcome hardships. These are the kids we refer to as ‘resilient’. They have an ability to adapt.” – Jessica Lahey

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Matt talks with Jessica Lahey, the author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. She is an educator, speaker and writer. She writes biweekly Parent-Teacher Conference advice column for the New York Times and is a contributor to the Atlantic. What do we learn from failure? Jessica Lahey, suggests that the best parents learn to let go so their children can succeed.


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Ways We Sabotage our Children’s Success in School

It’s so easy to want to do everything for our kids sometimes. We just want what’s best for them, right? According to Heather Johnson, constantly vouching for our kids can sabotage their success in school:

“Sometimes we are so worried about what other people are going to think, that we don’t let kids make their own decisions. You don’t want to be the parent of the kid who’s behaves poorly in school, or the kid who is failing biology. But you need to let them make those mistakes. You can’t let other parents’ opinion of you or your child influence how you parent your child. In order to let our kids progress, we have to let them make decision on their own, and teach them correct principles.” -Heather Johnson

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How to Have Better Relationships with Your Teens

Struggling to keep up with your teenagers and all the crazy stuff they do or go through? You’re not alone. Raising a teenager can be difficult. Listen to some advice from Heather Johnson about how to better connect with your teen:

“Teenage life can be a lot of fun. We think of it as terrible sometimes, but if we can change our mindset that teenagers are terrific, then they can show you they’re actually pretty unbelievable people. We see it in our own home and with people I work with. We see teenagers as narcissistic and selfish but in reality, we need to cut them some slack. These sweet little things are just trying to figure life out. This time of their lives is the time that you as parents need to be most creative. Teenagers need autonomy, they need time to grow, and we can give that to them. You have to let them discover themselves, and at the same time, let you guide them and mentor them without them knowing. It’s a difficult task, but it can be done.” -Heather Johnson

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Matt talks with Heather Johnson, M.S., who has been an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University for nearly 10 years. She is passionate about teaching students the principles behind successful families and the importance of families spending time together. Heather and Dr. Matt talk about how to better connect with our teenagers.

 Join The Matt Townsend Show, Weekdays 9am-12pm ET on BYU RADIO (Sirius XM Channel 143) or

Relating to Your Millennial

Raising a Millennial: What We Know

If you’re currently the parents of a Millennial (any person from the ages of 18-34) then you might already know that many of them share some fairly interesting traits that at times might make them a little more difficult to parent. Millennial’s bring a fairly interesting mix to this world (for more details please visit . They are the generation that was never told “no.” Combined with the realities of being the first born in the throws of the Internet and the information age. In order to truly understand how to parent Millennial, you’re best served to understand where they came from and where they want to go, if you really want to have any chance of having success. Here are 5 basic thoughts to remember when mothering your millennial.


Embrace Their Use of Tech As Expression & Education

Gently Guide Their Passion and Creativity

Love Unconditionally

Accept Their Need For Freedom & Space  

Respect Their Choice of People Over Things

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Coaching your Child Through Anxiety and Worry

Trying to calm a child from their fears and anxieties is no easy task.

Studio 5 Contributor, Dr. Matt Townsend, shares 5 ways to help bring your children back to a calm state.

The ABC’s of Character Building for Parents


Children that have different personalities, different strengths, and different interests can be a challenge to parents.

Dr. Matt Townsend, Studio 5 Contributor and Relationship Coach, helps the parenting process by discussing the ABC’s of character development.

Dr. Matt Townsend's Web Site