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Parental Involvement and Behavior Problems

Parental involvement is important in elementary years

The results of a new study suggest that children whose parents are more involved during their elementary school years have fewer behavior problems and better social skills.

The study, published in the May/June 2010 issue of the journal Child Development, is based on data gather from more than 1,300 children from 10 U.S. cities who were followed from birth to fifth grade. They are part of the Study of Early Childcare and Youth Development, a longitudinal study supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh sought to learn how parents’ involvement affects children’s academic, social, and emotional well-being in elementary school. The children studied were mostly Caucasian and nearly evenly divided by gender.

For the study, parents’ involvement included visits to the elementary school and encouraging educational progress at home. When parents engaged in these actions, their children’s problem behaviors, including aggressive and disruptive behaviors decreased, and children’s symptoms of anxiety and depression decreased as well. Additionally, the children showed improvements in social behaviors, especially in the areas of cooperation and self-control.

For working moms and dads with busy schedules, visiting a child’s school and encouraging academic progress at home can be challenging, but it’s a great investment. Avoiding behavior problems and developing good social skills can make life easier—for children and their parents—for years to come.

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