Promoting positive behaviour in children

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Schwartz, C., Waddell, C., Barican, J., Andres, C., & Gray-Grant, D. (2015). Promoting positive behaviour in children. Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly, 9(4), 1–20. Vancouver, BC: Children’s Health Policy Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.

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Background: For some children challenging behaviours, including defiance and aggression, start to impede their development and well-being. We set out to determine whether early interventions could assist these young people.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify randomized control trials (RCTs) evaluating interventions for preventing child behaviour disorders, including oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. Applying our inclusion criteria to the 166 studies identified from our searches, we accepted 13 RCTs.

Results: We found five programs — Chicago Parent Program, Fast Track, Incredible Years, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parent Management Training — that had positive behavioural outcomes. All either focused primarily on parenting or included parents to a substantial degree. Additionally, Fast Track and Nurse-Family Partnership were also shown to be cost-effective.

Conclusions: It is possible to avert behavioural problems early in a child’s development before they become entrenched. Doing so comes with substantial long-term benefits to children, families and society.

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