Ability to Love, Impulse Control, Moral Reasoning
Parenting the At Risk Child
Genetic Connection Between ADHD, Addiction and Antisocial Behavior

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The Inner Triangle

There are three abilities developed during childhood that prevent antisocial behavior, addiction and ADHD. These are Ability to Love, Impulse Control and Moral Reasoning. These three make up a triangle because they grow together and if one is missing, the other two don't develop either.

Ability to Love enables impulse control and impulse control enables ability to love. Studies show that mutual affection between parent and child predicts impulse control. Children who are temperamentally angry and impulsive have a difficult time learning to love.

Impulse control enables moral reasoning and vice versa. Children who have a hard time abiding by rules due to poor impulse control have two choices when it comes to believing in values. Their first choice is to view themselves as bad because they can't do the right thing. Their second choice is to view rules as stupid. Children often choose the second, and develop antisocial personality traits.

Ability to love is tied to moral reasoning. Children who enjoy loving relationships with parents are more likely to have advanced moral reasoning. A person who lacks moral values cannot behave in a loving way even if he has feelings of affection.

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If you have an at risk child, think about you own child's Inner Triangle. Does your child have ability to love? How is your child's impulse control? Does your child have an age appropriate understanding of moraltiy? If your child's Inner Triangle is well balanced, you can relax. Keep in mind, that the ages of 3-6 and 11-14 are times the Inner Triangle is stressed. This is because at these ages drives develop before a child has the brain structure to manage them. During these ages children need their parents the most!

How does the Inner Triangle relate to conscience? Conscience is not the same as the Inner Triangle but involves all three sides. Conscience also has three parts, empathy (part of ability to love), anxiety/guilt (a component of impulse control) and moral knowledge (part of moral reasoning). Psychopaths completely lack conscience. People with antisocial personality disorder and addiction have impaired conscience. Provided one is not a psychopath, conscience can improve throughout life. The things we do can also errode away the conscience.