• By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Thursday 26th June, 2014

Effects of the Incredible Years parenting program still strong after a year, Irish study finds

Parenting programs help improve parenting skills and children’s behavior in the short term – but do the effects last? Yes, they can, says a recent study in Ireland among disadvantaged families. Twelve months after the program, parents were still happier, able to parent better, and less worried about their kids’ behavior than before the program. What’s more, the cost of other service use…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Thursday 19th June, 2014

A call for two-generation strategies to achieve “breakthrough” impacts

Many early childhood programs improve the prospects of poor and disadvantaged children. Many are also cost-effective. But despite 50 years of development, the effects of these programs remain modest and variable. Could working with adults be a stronger way to help their children? Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, and Phil Fisher, from the Universi…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Thursday 12th June, 2014

Combined parenting programs help children with acquired brain injuries and their families

Childhood brain injuries can not only harm children’s health and development, but also lead to family disruption as parents suffer severe and worsening distress. Research in Australia suggests that a specialist intervention combining two established parenting programs can help.Researchers at the University of Queensland tested a combination of Stepping Stones Triple P – an evidence-based pare…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Thursday 12th June, 2014

Early childhood programs lead to better adult health

The long-term benefits for disadvantaged children who attend high-quality early years programs have long been known to include better qualifications, higher adult earnings and lower involvement in crime. But a groundbreaking study shows how the positive outcomes can extend to physical health – including lower levels of obesity and reduced risks of heart disease. Research published in the America…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Wednesday 28th May, 2014

So you’ve got a great idea. How do you make it happen?

For four decades, two separate bodies of research have been trying to explain how implementation does – or doesn’t – work. But because one grew from the natural sciences and the other from the social sciences, they’ve developed separately. And their separate histories mean that the two strains of work come with different perspectives on the ways that evidence becomes part of policy and pra…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Tuesday 20th May, 2014

Hope for stressed out mothers with irritable babies

Shortly after you bring your bundle of joy home, you discover that the magical moments you expected disappear and hard reality hits. The baby you’ve waited 40 weeks to hold cries all the time. You’ve tried everything you can think of to comfort her, yet nothing works. Is there hope for either of you? Researchers testing a home visiting program for irritable infants from economically stressed f…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Friday 16th May, 2014

Now that’s a great story

Reading is fun. But can it be therapeutic, too? In Canadian schools, reading and discussing stories about childhood problems improved 9-12 year olds’ coping skills and reduced risk factors for anxiety disorders.New research has found that a universal prevention program using storybooks that depict common childhood problems, in combination with group workshops, may help to prevent anxiety disor…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Thursday 08th May, 2014

Why it’s hard to evaluate universal parenting programs

Targeted parenting programs consistently prevent and treat child behavior problems – but the results for universal programs are less conclusive. A recent study in Wales of the universally offered Family Links Nurturing Programme shows why it’s hard to pin down effects.Extensive research shows that parenting programs targeting high-risk groups can prevent child behavior problems. In addition to…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Wednesday 30th April, 2014

Parents’ smacking is an early marker for preschool behavior problems

Children who were spanked or smacked as toddlers were twice as likely as similar others who weren’t smacked to have emotional and behavioral problems in their preschool years, a Scottish study found. While the research stops short of proving that smacking harms kids, it points to smacking as a major symptom of a damaging home environment.Should parents be allowed to spank or smack their childre…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Wednesday 23rd April, 2014

Child-unfriendly neighborhoods? How local living costs harm poor children

While the adverse effects on children of growing up amid chronic poverty are well documented, the impact of the local cost of living on their development has not been paid much attention. Yet this can be significant – calling into question why governments expect “one size” flat-rate welfare provision to “fit all”.Researchers in the United States have used data from a national longitudina…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Wednesday 16th April, 2014

Time to consign what doesn’t work to the trash bin?

Every year sees more evidence-based interventions enter the children’s services market. Many are promoted on online clearinghouses such as Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development. But isn’t it time that more untried practices were properly tested – and those that really do not work consigned to the trash bin?In a forthright Editorial for the journal Implementation Science, Vinay Prasad and…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Thursday 10th April, 2014

A Goldilocks problem

When it comes to school-based programs, too much flexibility puts a burden on teachers that they may not be willing or able to carry. Too little flexibility means the program may clash with local needs. How much flexibility is just right?A new evaluation has found that an ambitious program to teach social and emotional skills to students in 300 English secondary schools ran into serious problems…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Monday 07th April, 2014

How developmental disorders cluster

Imagine learning to talk and read, thread beads, and pay attention. These three skills – examples of language skills, motor skills, and executive function – seem like three distinct developmental areas. So why do problems in one area often forecast problems in another? Researchers are working to understand their shared roots.Dyslexia, language impairment, ADHD, and coordination disorders ofte…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Thursday 03rd April, 2014

Learning to talk, one situation at a time

Children with a rare disorder called selective mutism find it impossible to speak in certain situations. Long considered hard to treat, children with the condition improved during a three-month program that gradually encouraged them to talk in front of adults.Children with selective mutism (SM) refuse to talk in some contexts, even though they speak freely elsewhere. For instance, a child may be…

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  • By Laura Whybra
  • Posted on Monday 31st March, 2014

School lessons in empathy lead to lower levels of aggression

Aggressive behavior in schools is a problem that can seriously disrupt teaching and learning for all students, not just those that are hostile or engage in fighting. Spanish research suggests that a socio-emotional learning (SEL) program can help to reduce aggression among youth by increasing their levels of empathy. The link between empathy – the ability to understand and share other people’s…

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