NEW DELHI: A new research has revealed effective parenting strategies to reduce disruptive behaviour in children.
The study led by the Society for Research in Child Development, found differences in what works best according to whether or not children already showed behaviour problems, based on more than 150 studies of parenting programmes.
Most parenting programmes aim to teach parents how to reduce their children’s disruptive behaviour.
Severely disruptive behaviour was defined as openly uncooperative and hostile behaviour, including frequent temper tantrums, excessive arguing with adults and deliberate attempts to annoy or upset others.
The work was conducted by researchers at the University of Amsterdam, Cardiff University, University of Oxford, and Utrecht University. “We found that when severely disruptive behaviour had already emerged in children, a combination of teaching parents how to manage behaviour along with relationship-building strategies was more effective than just teaching parents how to manage behaviour,” explained Patty Leijten, who led the study.
“However, when disruptive behaviour had not yet emerged as a problem, teaching parents both strategies was not more helpful than teaching behaviour-management strategies alone,” she said.
Behaviour-management strategies include praise to increase positive behaviour and negative consequences like timeouts to reduce disruptive behaviour. Relationship-building strategies include encouraging parents to be sensitive to their children’s needs.
The researchers looked at 156 studies on the effectiveness of parenting programmes for reducing disruptive behaviour in children ages two to10. The studies involved more than 15,000 families from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds in 20 countries.
Because the programmes varied by whether they taught parents just behaviour-management strategies or both relationship-building and behaviour-management strategies, the study could compare the effectiveness of these commonly used approaches.
“Policymakers and service providers should be aware that different families may need different strategies to reduce disruptive behaviour in children. Programmes designed to prevent severe disruptive behaviour and to treat severe disruptive behaviour may require different approaches,” suggested G.J. Melendez-Torres, who coauthored the study.
“Adding relationship building to behaviour management may benefit children who have not yet developed severe disruptive behaviour in other ways, such as encouraging better overall communication between parents and children, but it doesn’t help reduce disruptive behaviour in these children. However, for children who have already developed severe disruptive behaviour, adding relationship building to behaviour management is key to reducing these problems”, Melendez-Torres continued.
The findings from this study are published in the journal Child Development, a publication of the Society for Research in Child Development.