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Bad Kids? Train the Parents

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. The authors make the point that, since childhood anti-social behavior is a strong indicator of adult anti-social behavior and criminality, the findings are potentially very important.

This kind of study does make you wonder why, here in the U.S., where you must acquire a license to drive a car, sell real-estate, or hunt deer, there is no such license (or commensurate training) for raising children. I’m not saying there should be such a license.

Or maybe I am?