Monday, April 02, 2007

Bad Kids? Train the Parents

A new study claims that parenting classes work:
Here’s an interesting paper from the British Medical Journal which argues that children’s anti-social behavior can be significantly altered by training their parents to be better parents. (And here is the BMJ’s editorial summary.)

The paper’s authors conducted a randomized study with 153 socially disadvantaged Welsh parents with children aged 3 or 4. Some of the parents were given a 12-week “intervention programme,” in which two professionals taught the parents how to reward, punish, and discipline their children. The control group of parents were wait-listed for this workshop.

The results showed that the children of the parents who took the workshop behaved significantly better afterward, at least in the short term.
These results aren't too surprising, but don't really prove that the classes are teaching anything useful. Maybe just inducing parents to reflect on what they are doing causes them to do better. It would be more interesting if someone did an experiment like this comparing different parenting theories.

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