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Science offers parenting advice

Author John Thompson
Submitted 02-07-2008

Everyone seems to have an opinion on the best way to bring up a child these days, from grandparents to doctors and teachers.

Most parents are bombarded with a barrage of mixed messages and do not know where to turn for the best advice. Science may provide the answer to this problem, offering empirical answers to everyday questions.

The Kansas City Star notes that researchers have spend the last few decades studying in detail what motivates children to behave better, producing what it calls "evidence-based parenting".

For example, the automatic response of many parents when their child misbehaves is to raise their voice or mete out a punishment, such as grounding.

However, Dr Alan Kazdin, a psychologist and director of the Yale Parenting Center, says "research is unequivocal that it won’t work".

He argues that kids will tune out both yelling and reasoning, while spanking and other harsh punishments will only have a temporary effect. Instead, Dr Kazdin recommends praise of good behavior and short, mild punishments.

The newspaper also reveals that research supports the idea that parents should set limits and stick to them, not be too overprotective, and avoid nagging.

For those mothers and fathers who are still struggling, a parenting class may be the answer, such as the one that is currently run for parents having difficulty with teenagers in Charlottesville, Virginia.