New treatment works wonders for difficult children

Australian psychologists find that even after a new behavioral therapy ends, children feel exhausted after showing improvements in learned and disruptive behaviors have lasting results compared to existing treatments. I have found a solution that can give parents new hope.

Josie Fleming, a clinical psychologist who specializes in children’s behavior problems, said she’s seen sustained improvements in children aged 3 to 7 who received the specialized treatment they developed.

“At the same time, we also saw a pattern of deterioration in children who received standard care,” said Fleming, lead author of the study from the University of New South Wales.

Their personalized treatment is an enhanced version of parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) and has three areas that are significantly different from past strategies.

First, they instructed parents to strengthen their relationship with their children by expressing warmth and affection.

“Things like sitting close to your child when they’re playing, praising your child, or ‘smiling’ aloud to do something specifically intended to make your child laugh,” Fleming said.

Second, researchers used a disciplinary system involving tokens rather than punishment.

“Basically, we identify behaviors that we want these children to do more of. use ‘, etc.

“And in every instance where children exhibit what we call ‘pro-social behavior,’ they receive a token (a small reward of some kind) that accumulates over time, giving rise to a variety of rewards. can be exchanged for the entire menu of

The final thing that makes it different from previous treatments is that psychologists actively train children’s emotional skills.

“Strong evidence that children with cold and apathetic traits have an underdeveloped ability to recognize certain facial expressions and have difficulty understanding when someone is frightened or sad. there is.

“So we train them in micro-representations that universally show them as humans and build on these skills to see people in distress and guide them to places where they can be pro-social responsive.”

“Biology is not necessarily destiny”

Previous treatment enhancements were based on research led by Professor Eva Kimonis.

She said there is a longstanding view that behavioral problems and mental disorders in children are difficult to treat.

“But I think what this treatment does is offer hope, that these traits may be responsive to intervention when young enough,” Kimonis said.

“So I don’t think biology is necessarily destiny.”

Kimonis said the team has begun offering these specialized treatments to children.

“Georgie [Fleming] Ingleburn Public Schools is already leading a project based on this research, which will allow children with these characteristics, and their parents and teachers, access to this program in communities where they are less likely to receive this kind of support. I am making it possible. ”

Researchers are considering building a second clinic site at Condell Park Public School to promote the program in the community of practitioners.

“What is truly novel about the way the program is delivered in schools is that teachers work with parents to use consistent strategies. means.”