It’s never too late for parenting intervention

Washington: Parenting intervention is a common and effective tool for reducing child behaviour problems. According to a recent study, parenting interventions for helping children with behaviour problems are just as effective in older children, as it is in younger ones.

There is a predominant view amongst scientists and policy-makers that for greatest effect, interventions need to be applied early in life when a child’s brain functions and behaviour is thought to be more malleable. However, the new research says that it can be helpful for children of all ages.

A team of researchers analysed data from over 15,000 families from all over the world and found that older children benefited just as much as younger ones from parenting interventions for reducing behaviour problems. There was no evidence whatsoever for the common belief that earlier interventions are more powerful – and this was based on combining data from more than 150 rigorous trials.

Professor Gardner, head researcher of the study, said: “Where there is concern about behavioural difficulties in younger children, it is important that our findings are never used as a reason to delay intervention, as children and families otherwise will suffer for longer. With respect to common parenting interventions for reducing behaviour problems in childhood, rather than believing ‘earlier is better’, we should conclude, ‘it’s never too early, never too late’.”

The study draws the conclusion that it makes sense to invest in parenting interventions for children at all ages showing signs of behavioural difficulties, as they are no more likely to be effective in younger than older children, at least in the pre-adolescent range, 2-11 years.
The full findings are present in the journal- Child Development.