To curb violent tendencies, start young

(Photo: Michael LaMartin)

Working with aggressive children prevents some from becoming violent, criminal adults

Aggressive children are less likely to become violent criminals or psychiatrically troubled adults if they receive early intervention, says a new study based on more than two decades of research.

These findings from researchers at Duke, Pennsylvania State and Vanderbilt universities and the University of Washington are based on the Fast Track Project, a multi-faceted program that is one of the largest violence-prevention trials ever funded by the federal government.

Beginning in 1991, the researchers screened nearly 10,000 5-year-old children in Durham, Nashville, Seattle and rural Pennsylvania for aggressive behavior problems, identifying those who were at highest risk of growing up to become violent, antisocial adults. Nearly 900 children were deemed at high risk, and of those, half were randomly assigned to receive the Fast Track intervention, while the other half were assigned to a control group. Participating children and their families received an array of interventions at school and at home.

Nineteen years later, the authors found that Fast Track participants at age 25 had fewer convictions for violent and drug-related crimes, lower rates of serious substance abuse, lower rates of risky sexual behavior and fewer psychiatric problems than the control group.

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Sometimes, adolescents just can’t resist

(Image: Austin Smoldt-Sáenz, University of Iowa)

University of Iowa study finds teenagers are far more sensitive than adults to the immediate effect or reward of their behaviors

Don’t get mad the next time you catch your teenager texting when he promised to be studying.

He simply may not be able to resist.

A University of Iowa study found teenagers are far more sensitive than adults to the immediate effect or reward of their behaviors. The findings may help explain, for example, why the initial rush of texting may be more enticing for adolescents than the long-term payoff of studying.

“The rewards have a strong, perceptional draw and are more enticing to the teenager,” says Jatin Vaidya, a professor of psychiatry at the UI and corresponding author of the study, which appeared online this week in the journal Psychological Science. “Even when a behavior is no longer in a teenager’s best interest to continue, they will because the effect of the reward is still there and lasts much longer in adolescents than in adults.”

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Powerful Parenting: Anger Management Tips for Children – PsychCentral

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Anger occurs when a person of any age is feeling overwhelmed and overpowered. It is our way to say “No, stop it! I don’t like it. It is unfair. I can’t handle it,” and so on. Since children have many rules to learn and follow daily, they are likely to feel challenged and frustrated often. Therefore, parents should not be surprised that children question and challenge boundaries.

Anger is natural. It is about our sense of feeling wronged and attempts at boundary setting. It does not have to be toxic and abusive, but it might escalate to that level. It happens when people don’t know how to express and handle it appropriately. It is important to allow children to express their anger and teach them how to go about it.

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Socially-assistive robots help kids with autism learn by providing personalized prompts

(Photo: USC Viterbi School of Engineering)

Socially-assistive robots help children with autism learn imitative behavior with ‘graded cueing’
This week, a team of researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering will share results from a pilot study on the effects of using humanoid robots to help children with autism practice imitation behavior in order to encourage their autonomy. Findings from the study, entitled “Graded Cueing Feedback in Robot-Mediated Imitation Practice for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” will be presented at the 23rd IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN) conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Aug. 27.The pilot study was led by Maja Matarić, USC Viterbi Vice Dean for Research and the Chan Soon-Shiong Chair in Computer Science, Neuroscience and Pediatrics, whose research focuses on how robotics can help those with various special needs, including Alzheimer’s patients and children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Her research team included doctoral student Jillian Greczek, postdoctoral researcher Amin Atrash, and undergraduate computer science student Edward Kaszubski.

“There is a vast health care need that can be aided by intelligent machines capable of helping people of all ages to be less lonely, to do rehabilitative exercises, and to learn social behaviors,” said Matarić. “There’s so much that can be done that can complement human care as well as other emerging technologies.”

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New research: Parents of anxious children can avoid the ‘protection trap’

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Anxiety in kids one of the most common disorders

Parents naturally comfort their children when they are scared, but new research shows that some reactions may actually reinforce their children’s feelings of anxiety.

A new Arizona State University study shows that parents whose children suffer from anxiety often fall into the “protection trap” that may influence their child’s behavior. The paper, “Variations in the Influence of Parental Socialization of Anxiety among Clinic Referred Children,” was published in the journal, “Child Psychiatry and Human Development,” by ASU graduate student Lindsay Holly, who is earning her doctoral degree in clinical psychology, and Armando A. Pina, ASU associate professor in child developmental psychology. Researchers analyzed self-report questionnaires and clinical interviews that were completed by 70 children aged 6 to 16 who were being treated for anxiety at a university-based program.

“Anxiety in kids is one of the most common disorders in childhood. A certain amount of anxiety is normal and necessary to stay safe. It’s when the problematic levels of anxiety crop up when you can’t go to school or hang out with friends that it becomes a major problem,” Holly said. “That’s when we can really look at what parents are doing and guide them in having a big impact on helping their kids cope with fears.”

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