Watching TV Can Improve Parenting And Child Behaviour

Nov 22, 2006

Watching television parenting programmes like ITV's Driving Mum and Dad Mad really can help improve parenting skills and modify children's behavioural problems, according to a study at The University of Manchester.

The six-part series followed the progress of five families whose children showed clear behavioural problems through Professor Matt Sanders' "Triple P-Positive Parenting Programme," which provides guidance on parenting skills which promote good behavioural and emotional adjustment.

In "The Great Parenting Experiment: The role of the mass media in preventing anti-social behaviour in children," clinical psychologists Dr Rachel Calam and Professor Sanders himself studied a sample of the 4.2 million parents tuning into the first series in Spring 2005. Funded by the Home Office's Respect Task Force, the team assessed how much watching the programmes actually helped parents at home.

Dr Calam said: "This is the first national experiment to monitor parents working alongside a "TV info-tainment" series and trying out the techniques shown. We wanted to assess whether, by adopting the ideas suggested, mums and dads were able to improve their children's behaviour and reduce their own stress levels.

"465 parents completed an assessment of their children's behaviour, parenting practices, confidence as a parent, stress levels and family circumstances before the series, which was repeated 12 weeks after the series started and again six months later. Parents who just watched the series and those given additional "enhanced support" reported significantly fewer problems with both their children's conduct and their parenting practices after 12 weeks.

"Over 40% of the children who had had severe behavioural problems at the beginning of the study showed clinically-reliable changes in behaviour, and moved into the "normal" range on measures of disruptive behaviour.

"The parents also reported higher confidence in their ability to manage behavioural problems; 45% of them saying they were very much less likely to over-react to difficult behaviour."

The parents receiving the enhanced support showed fewer problems at the 12-week point in terms of child behaviour problems, parenting practices, and parental conflict, but both levels of intervention proved effective at reducing levels of parental distress and conflict and modifying children's behaviour problems.

Professor Sanders said: "Across the board, parents' sense of their own effectiveness significantly improved, with parents reporting clinically-significant increases in confidence in dealing with difficult behaviours and situations (like bedtimes and taking children to the supermarket). The level of improvement in children's behaviour was unrelated to the initial severity of the child's conduct problem, with children who had the most severe problems at the beginning doing just as well as other children with less severe problems.

"The improvements associated with watching the series were maintained after six months, and it is extremely encouraging to see that so many parents benefited from it. Our findings indicate that the media can be used constructively to provide parenting information and advice in an entertaining way, and can bring real positive outcomes to both parents and children."

Source: University of Manchester

Explore further: Religious music brings benefit to seniors' mental health

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Reducing debris threat from satellite batteries

Mar 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —Across a satellite's working life, batteries keep the craft's heart beating whenever it leaves sunlight. But after its mission ends, those same batteries may threaten catastrophe.

How Candy Crush, Angry Birds get your money

Feb 25, 2014

They are free to download, fun to play, and fiendishly addictive: mobile games like Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds and Clash of Clans want to get you hooked, then get your money.

The importance of (experimental) design

Feb 25, 2014

One of the hottest debates in evolutionary biology concerns the origin of behaviour: is it genetically encoded or do animals and birds copy their parents or other individuals? A classic experiment published in 2000 seemed ...

Recommended for you

Religious music brings benefit to seniors' mental health

19 hours ago

A new article published online in The Gerontologist reports that among older Christians, listening to religious music is associated with a decrease in anxiety about death and increases in life satisfaction, self-e ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...