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Parent ‘Optimism Training’ May Reduce Behavior Problems

Aug 07, 2013 -- 1:27 pm
August 7, 2013 Text Size A A
Providing “optimism training” to parents of children with developmental disabilities who struggle with challenging behavior appears to go a long way, researchers say.
Behavior issues seen in children were more likely to subside for parents whose own attitudes were addressed while they were taught to implement positive behavior support as opposed to parents who were merely trained in how to address their children’s challenges.
The findings come from a five-year study looking at 54 families of children ages 3 to 6 with developmental disabilities who struggled with serious challenging behaviors like aggression and self-injury. Researchers specifically selected parents who were pessimistic about their children’s prospects.
For the study, parents were asked to participate in eight weekly sessions. Half learned to implement positive behavior support while the other half received behavior instruction as well as so-called optimism training. This additional instruction helped parents learn how to identify and address patterns in their own thoughts and feelings. In difficult situations, for example, parents were taught to use positive self-talk like “this is a situation I can handle” as opposed to thinking “my child is out of control.”
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