A project of the Child Trends News Service supported by the National Science Foundation

It’s Never Too Late to Parent

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — You might have heard that you need to nip bad behavior in the bud early to raise a child effectively. But a new study shows that this is not necessarily the case.

Is earlier always better when it comes to helping your child with their behavior? New research suggests that this may not be true.

A team of researchers looked at data from more than 15,000 families from all over the world. They found that older kids benefited from parenting strategies to improve behavior just as much as younger kids did. The scientists studied a range of parenting interventions that used a social learning theory approach, meaning they focused on warmth and joint involvement and shifted from screaming and spanking to more positive discipline. There was no evidence that using these strategies earlier had any benefit, debunking the common belief that behavior changes only happen when a child is young. And while the scientists say this research doesn’t support delaying interventions, it does suggest it’s never too late to parent.

The children in the study ranged in age from 2 to 10. The scientists also found that interventions of older children were actually more likely to be cost-effective than those of younger children.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

Full research article: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cdev.13138

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