Parent programme doesn't affect kid's behavior: study

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Washington, Feb 3 (UNI) Just let your kids be themselves as an international study shows that parenting programme, designed to prevent early child behaviour problems has little impact on toddlers, and can be a waste of time and money.

The study, conducted at the Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) in Australia and published in the British Medical Journal showed that those on the parenting programme were less likely to report harsh or abusive parenting and unreasonable expectations of child development, but there was no improvement in maternal distress or toddler behaviour, the Science Daily reported today.

For the study, researchers designed a programme suitable for all parents to be delivered by trained health professionals in primary care. The programme aimed to prevent child behaviour problems, such as defiance and aggression, and improve parenting and maternal mental health.

Over 700 mothers of 8-month-old infants participated in the study and were randomised to either the programme (three sessions at age 8-15 months) or usual care from their local Maternal and Child Health centre. Mothers were surveyed throughout the study and their mental health was assessed when their children reached 18 and 24 months.

At 18 months, child behaviour and parenting scores were similar between the two groups. By age 24 months, parents on the programme were less likely to report harsh or abusive parenting and unreasonable expectations of child development, but there was no improvement in maternal distress or toddler behaviour.

The researchers conclude that the outcomes are insufficient to support widespread introduction of this programme to prevent toddler behaviour problems.

Behaviour problems affect up to 20 per cent of children and have major personal, societal and economic ramifications. Left untreated, up to half of behaviour problems in preschool children develop into later mental health problems.

Prevention targeted to high-risk families can be effective, but has limited reach and may stigmatise. Universal programmes offered to all families could address these concerns, but their effectiveness is uncertain.

UNI XC ARB MSJ KP1943

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