It is hard to browse the web or turn on your television these days, without coming across a heart-breaking news story. In these times of conflict and international turmoil, it can be difficult to see families in such dire situations. Often it is children who suffer the worst, and we can find ourselves asking how they will ever recover mentally or obtain some semblance of normality.
Trauma is not always as obvious or as extreme as war and displacement. Sometimes, trauma can occur in the home or school, or as the result of a random unfortunate happening. In any case, children who have experienced trauma will inevitably require extra care and supports, and it is important to understand the associated effects and requirements.
What Is Trauma?
Trauma refers to highly stressful events that exceed our capacity to cope. It is difficult to define what a traumatic event is, as it depends on the individual’s personal experience. Whilst some individuals may suffer long- term psychological damage from engaging in military combat for example, others adjust relatively well back into normal life.
Childhood trauma may be defined as the child’s unique experience of an event or prolonged condition which results in:
a) An inability to healthily process the emotional experience and
b) Experiencing a threat to life, bodily integrity or mental health
Trauma is a very broad term and incorporates “single- blow” experiences such as deaths, crimes and environmental disaster. It can also include “repeated trauma” during childhood such as abuse, violence or extreme poverty.
Research indicates that although single-blow traumas are extremely distressing, the most serious mental health problems often arise from repeated trauma. This is because repeated trauma can often last years or even decades of a young person’s life, leaving them little time to experience the safety and stability required for psychologically healthy development.
Some psychologists argue that the most pervasive trauma is that which results from a relationship in which the victim is dependent, particularly parent- child relationships.
What Are the Results Of Childhood Trauma?
The long term- effects of trauma can be influenced by:
Importantly, trauma in childhood may manifest itself in later years and has been linked to Post- traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), addiction, psychosis and a wide range of other mental health difficulties.
In addition to emotional consequences, childhood trauma can have long- term physical consequences. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study included 17,000 individuals. They gathered information on the participant’s childhood, including any trauma, and compared it with their medical histories. Their results showed a link between chldhood trauma and chronic illness including heart disease. It also revealed a link with risk- taking behaviours.
Trauma Treatment For Children
There are a wide variety of treatment options available for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma. Unfortunately however, research has invested must more effort in exploring the effect of different therapies on adults, so in some cases we have limited scientific evidence for therapeutic interventions.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most common treatment choice due to scientific backing and the fact that most mental health professionals have a level of competency in CBT. Although CBT was originally developed for adults there have been attempts to adapt it for younger populations.
Multi- modality trauma treatment (MMTT) is normally conducted in school settings and uses methods that are accessible for younger populations. These include relaxation techniques and writing about the experience. It may also include some sessions where the young person is taught how to manage negative emotions such as depression and anxiety.
Another type of CBT suitable for younger people is called Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or TF-CBT. This is designed for children aged 3-18 and can involve individual sessions or sessions with a caregiver, depending on age and requirements. This involves a similar to programme to MMTT except more of it is done on an individual basis. Children are encouraged to process the trauma and learn to cope with memories or reminders. Although first developed for children who had experienced childhood sexual abuse, TF-CBT has a proven success rate with other types of distressing events.
If a child has experienced trauma it is very important to handle all paths towards treatment sensitively. Forcing a child into a therapeutic situation in which they are not comfortable can do more harm than good, and the child should not be asked to face their experiences too suddenly. It may take some time for the young person to explore their traumatic experience and patience and compassion are of the utmost importance along the way.
If you are caring for a child who has experienced trauma it is important to seek out a registered specialist who will tailor treatment to the child’s needs. Most importantly, make sure the child receives the help they require as past experiences may resurface in later years. By seeking help at an early stage later mental health problems and long-term effects may be minimized.
Dube, S. R., Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Chapman, D. P., Williamson, D. F., & Giles, W. H. (2001). Childhood abuse, household dysfunction, and the risk of attempted suicide throughout the life span: findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. Jama, 286(24), 3089-3096.
NIMH. "Effects of Complex Trauma." National Child Traumatic Stress Network. National Institutes of Health, 01 Jan. 2016. Web. 19 May 2016.
We’ve all probably heard of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or “OCD”. OCD is widely featured in films and popular culture and is commonly misused in day- to- day conversation. Many people describe themselves as being “OCD” about things they may be particular about such as keeping their car clean or maintaining an organised bookshelf. As a result, the condition of OCD is often misunderstood and many do not know how to recognise the symptoms.
In terms of prevalence, OCD is thought to affect at least 1 in 40 in the general population. As adults we are often able to recognise, at least on some level, that our behaviour is unusual or effecting us adversely. For children with OCD however, they may not yet have developed the self- awareness to recognise this and may attempt to conceal their difficulties from adults out of shame or fear. Therefore, it is important for parents and caregivers to be aware of the symptoms of OCD in childhood, so that they may seek the necessary help for their child if required.
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
The first step in obtaining this understanding is to know on a clinical level what OCD actually is. OCD is a pervasive and long- lasting disorder in which the sufferer has reoccurring thoughts (or obsessions) and behaviours (compulsions) which they cannot control. They will feel the need to repeat these thoughts and behaviours often with little to no explanation as to why. Those with OCD will sometimes feel that if they do not carry out these rituals or behaviours, that something bad will happen. Completing the ritual will temporarily reduce this anxiety but will inevitably resurface, sending the individual into a cycle of anxiety and repetitive behaviours.
What Are the Symptoms?
Those with OCD may experience a combination of symptoms comprised of obsessions and/ or compulsions. These will be severe enough to interfere with daily life including school, work and sometimes interpersonal relationships.
In order to explore the symptoms of OCD we will divide it into two categories: obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions: Obsessions are unwanted and repetitive thoughts that result in anxiety.
Some common obsessive thoughts in children include:
Common compulsions include:
What separates individual differences from those with OCD is that children with OCD truly cannot control their thoughts or behaviours, even when they recognise them as abnormal. Your child will not get any pleasure from these activities and will perform them purely to alleviate their anxiety or because they feel something bad may happen if they do not. The obsessions and compulsions will interfere with their day- to- day lives and will not be contained.
Children with OCD can sometimes have a “motor tic”. This is a repetitive action may include blinking or jerking or can sometimes be a vocal tic like grunting.
What Causes OCD?
Scientists have yet to pinpoint what causes OCD. There has been some interesting research however, which has improved our understanding of what is behind it. One prominent theory is that OCD is related to the brain chemical “serotonin”.
When the flow of serotonin in the brain is slower than it should be, alarm bells can go off in the brain. The brain can perceive danger where it is not, and enter a cycle of anxiety.
In terms of why some individuals experience this activity, there is strong evidence that it has a genetic basis. If your child has family members with anxiety disorders or OCD, they are much more likely to experience OCD themselves.
That said, a family history is not always present and sometimes it can be triggered by stress or life events. The main point to take away is that the causes for OCD are complex and many, and parents should not blame themselves when a child receives a diagnosis.
What Can Be Done To Treat Children And Teens?
The fundamental aspects of treatment for OCD are the same as for adults. Individual therapy is a common and effective course of action. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is often used to change the young person’s thought patterns, so that they can recognise illogical and unhelpful thoughts, and manage stressful triggers.
What complicates treatment for young people, especially younger children, is that they may have difficulty expressing themselves or may not yet have the necessary self- awareness for intensive talk- therapy. It can also be quite scary for young people to vocalise the fears they have, even with their parents. Sometimes children may believe that if they verbalise their fears that they will come true! Psychologists refer to this as “magical thinking”.
It is really important that children with OCD receive the help they need and also that they feel safe and comfortable with a health- care professional. Patience and compassion are key, as these young people truly cannot stop these behaviours by themselves. If you suspect your child has OCD then contact your GP who will refer you to a specialist.
Gryczkowski, M. R., & Whiteside, S. P. (2014). Pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The National Institute of Mental Health. "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder." N.p., 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 19 May 2016.
Every child has their challenging moments, no matter how good they may normally be! Temper tantrums and fights with siblings are all part and parcel of the developmental process. Some behaviour however, exceeds the limits of what is normal. If your child or teenager seems to be persistently angry and defiant towards figures of authority, then it is possible they may have what is termed oppositional defiant disorder or ODD.
ODD can be extremely challenging for parents and families alike as it causes immense stress and strain. If you suspect your child has ODD you do not have to go it alone as there are a range of mental health experts who can help as well as numerous treatments available.
What to Look Out For
Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder may include excessive arguments (particularly with adults or authority figures), regular temper tantrums and purposefully behaving in an irritating and mean manner.
The signs of ODD normally appear by preschool and almost always before the teen years. Whist some behavioural issues are common (particularly in the teenage years) ODD causes significant disruption in the school and the home. It is important not to confuse ODD with merely being stubborn or emotional!
In order to accurately diagnose individuals with ODD, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association has drawn up a list of criteria. This manual is the handbook most commonly used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders.
DSM-5 criteria state that in order to meet the requirements for a diagnosis of ODD the individual must demonstrate four symptoms from each of the following under the headings: “angry and irritable mood”, “argumentative and defiant behaviour” and “vindictiveness”.
Angry and irritable mood:
Loses temper frequently
Is often sensitive and/ or easily irritated by others
Is often angry and resentful
Argumentative and defiant behavior:
Frequently starts arguments with figures of authority
Frequently defies orders and rules laid out by figures of authority
Deliberately irritates people
History of blaming others for his/ her mistakes
Frequently demonstrates spiteful/ vindictive behaviour
Has demonstrated this behaviour twice in the last six months
In order to classify for a diagnosis, if present, these behaviours must be markedly more apparent than is typical for the child’s peer group. These behaviours must also be apparent with individuals outside the family unit. If the child behaves in this manner towards siblings only, they cannot be classified as having ODD!
The pattern of disruptive behaviour must cause significant problems in the domains of work, school or home and last at least six months so it really is very evident in day- to- day life.
An important point is that the difficulties associated with ODD occur separately to any other behavioural or mental health issue. So if your child suffers from another disorder which may explain the disruptive symptoms, than ODD may not be the diagnosis required.
As with many disorders ODD can affect individuals to varying degrees. Mild ODD for example may occur only in the school- setting whereas severe will be visible in all settings including the home, school or work.
What Causes ODD?
Unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question. Like many disorders, scientists believe it may be a complex relationship between biological, psychological and social factors that contribute to ODD.
In terms of biological factors studies have found a brain- chemical imbalance to be associated with ODD. They have also noted that having a parent with a history of ODD or ADHD puts children at risk. There are also environmental factors which have been implicated such as smoking during pregnancy or poor diet.
Psychological factors contributing to ODD include a poor relationship with parents or a neglectful or absent parent. For these reasons ODD is also often linked to parents with substance abuse. Social factors may include poverty and family instability amongst others.
Whilst these are some factors that have been linked to ODD it is important to note that scientists really don’t have one answer. A family may not meet any of the criteria above yet still find themselves facing the disruptive behaviour of a child with ODD.
Can ODD Be Prevented?
Early intervention, school- based programmes and individual therapy can all help to prevent ODD. If intervention is provided at pre-school i.e. via the Head Start Programme the outcomes are actually quite good.
Among adolescents talk therapy, social training and providing academic help can help to alleviate behaviours. Recently school- based programmes have also shown some effectiveness so it is important that intervention take place in multiple environments.
Treatement For ODD
Treatment for ODD has to be tailored to each individual child. For this reason it is difficult to pinpoint what treatment will entail. Most likely, however, it will include some psychotherapy or CBT, social skills training and parent-management training. In child therapy sessions the clinician will most likely teach the child ways to manage stress and triggering situations.
Parent-management training provides parents with the tools they need to effectively manage children’s behaviour, as well as care for their own needs. Parent management training teaches discipline techniques and positive parenting practices such as providing supportive and consistent supervision and discipline. It discourages harsh punishment.
Medication may sometimes be prescribed in severe cases of ODD, or when another disorder is present like ADHD. Even with medication, children can still benefit from some of the treatments described above.
If you are affected by any of the above, or suspect your child may have ODD, it is important to contact your nearest health professional for advice and support.
American Psychiatric Association (1980), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press
Connor DF (2002), Aggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and Adolescents: Research and Treatment. NewYork: The Guilford Press
Loeber R, Burke JD, Lahey BB, Winters A, Zera M (2000), Oppositional defiant and conduct disorder: a review of the past 10 years, part I. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 39:1468-1484
Staff, Mayo Clinic. "Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)." - Mayo Clinic. Mayi Clinic, 01 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 May 2016
Parenting is arguably one of the toughest jobs in the world. Raising kids is no joke. It can be exhausting. It can test a parent’s patience, and it may not get easier as the kids grow up.
Different ages pose different challenges for parents. Some even think they won’t be able to survive their kids’ teen years. They may get some moments to give a sigh of relief and breathe a little easier when the kids are asleep or at school, but there is always something to do and things to think about.
The stress, anxiety and difficulties that come with having children is what mindful parenting wants to address. Like other methods of parenting, it also believes that whatever parents do — from disciplining to spending time with them— can somehow influence what these kids would grow up into.
Mindful Parenting Defined
As defined by Kabat-Zinn (2003), mindfulness is “the awareness that emerges through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.” The very concepts and practices governing this belief are extended into the model of mindful parenting.
Children, whether they are still toddlers, tweens or full-blown teens, can set off a wide range of emotions in parents. When the stress becomes too much, the parents may often become aware of unresolved issues in the past or may burst into anger that their reactions to situations may become inappropriate. Additionally, they tend to be preoccupied with the past that has already happened and a future that hasn’t happened yet, adding more anxiety and stress on top of everything else that they do in the present.
In mindful parenting, parents are encouraged to step back from a tense situation, double check their emotion and take a deep breath before reacting. Theoretically, this will help them be calmer and more rational in dealing with difficult situations with their teenagers.
Mindful Parenting and Risky Behaviours Among Adolescents
A recent study (Turpyn, C. & Chaplin, T., 2016) investigated if mindful parenting can mitigate risk behaviors in adolescence. The authors wanted to know if parent emotional expression can have a “potential mechanism in the relationship between low mindful parenting and adolescent risk behaviors.
To find out, they asked 157 12–14-year-old adolescents, 49 of which were females, and their primary caregivers (99 % are women) to participate in an emotionally arousing conflict interaction. Negative, positive and shared parent-youth positive emotions were then coded. They also did an assessment regarding the use of prohibited drugs and other substances and sexual behaviors through self-report, interviews and physical toxicology screen tests.
Results revealed that mindful parenting can cause the parents to have less negative emotion and generate more positive emotion between them and their children in the given conflict-driven situations. Additionally, this method of parenting is shown to have an indirect effect on adolescents’ substance use. The researchers noted, though, that there is a lack of correlations between how parents express their emotions and adolescent sexual behaviors.
The Five Dimensions of Mindful Parenting
1. Active Listening and Full Attention
Awareness is one of the most important facets of mindfulness. In mindful parenting, active listening plays a vital role. Full attention should be given to the child while listening to what he or she has to say. Duncan, L., Coatsworth, J. & Greenberg, M. (2009) explained that combining “listening with a quality of focused attention and awareness... goes beyond simply hearing words that are said.”
This becomes the more important when children reach their adolescent period. Parents can no longer physically monitor them as they go on their daily lives. They can only gather information through their kids’ friends and other people they interact with most of the time. Arguably, the only way for parents to perceive the thoughts and feelings of their adult children is to bring full attention to how they act inside their homes and their answers to questions they throw at them. Moreover, when parents have time to “hang out” with their adolescents more often and be truly “present” on those moments, they may be able to promote self-disclosure (Smetana, JG., et. al., 2006).
2. Acceptance of the Child and Self Without Judgment
Parents are encouraged to see their child as a human being separate from themselves and that he or she is a unique individual with his or her own aspirations, desires, attributes and values. To recognize this, they should be mindful of their own expectations as to how their child should be and aware of how these expectations can affect their relationship with the child. This also means that they should accept the challenges and situations that come with becoming parents.
There will be inevitable moments of imperfections and committing mistakes that the child will witness. Parents should not shield their children of these realities. Instead, they should be conveyed in ways that are appropriate to their children’s development.
3. Emotional Awareness
Mindful parenting encourages parents to keep their emotions in check most of the time and to be fully aware of their teen kids’ emotions as well. Strong emotions can have a powerful influence on igniting undesirable behaviors, but when parents are able to channel more positive emotions even in stressful situations, they tend to become more able in making conscious choices and give more calm and rational responses.
4. Self Regulation
Self-regulation means taking a pause before responding to something a teenager has done. This way, parents can exercise better parenting practices. This is where “count to 10 before you react” belief comes to play.
5. Kindness and Compassion
Having a compassion for one’s adolescent children means fulfilling that desire of meeting their appropriate and realistic needs and comforting them when they’re distressed. Mindful parenting also emphasizes kindness and compassion for oneself as a parent by accepting the fact that you cannot always be perfect.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Context: Past, Present, and Future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10: 144–156. doi:10.1093/clipsy/bpg016
Turpyn, C. & Chaplin, T. (2016). Mindful Parenting and Parents’ Emotion Expression: Effects on Adolescent Risk Behaviors. Mindfulness, 7 :246–254. DOI 10.1007/s12671-015-0440-5
Duncan, L. G., Coatsworth, J. D., & Greenberg, M. T. (2009). A Model of Mindful Parenting: Implications for Parent–Child Relationships and Prevention Research. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 12(3): 255–270. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-009-0046-3
Smetana, J. G., Metzger, A., Gettman, D. C., & Campione-Barr, N., (2006). Disclosure and Secrecy in Adolescent-Parent Relationships. Child Development, 77: 201–217. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00865.x
The Complicated Issue of Children's Intelligence: A New Study Shows it May be More Changeable than we Thought!
We all know that school can be a demanding time for children, and want to make it as easy as possible for them to succeed.
There are so many hints and tips floating around for parents that it can be difficult to figure out what’s what. Between plying them with vitamins and fish oils, banning video games and learning second languages the list of suggestions can be overwhelming.
This is before the massive argument over “nature versus nurture” and whether intelligence can be influenced by anything we do at all! As scientists continue to tease out these questions, an interesting study was published this month which is worth paying attention to.
Psychologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have attempted to figure out whether intelligence levels can be increased by a range of interventions including preschool and iron supplements. They checked the effect this had on 985 children at age 3, 5 and 8 and took into account different kinds of intelligence like verbal, memory and reasoning.
Remarkably, the study found that environmental interventions (changes made in the school or home) resulted in only temporary gains in intelligence. After intelligence increased slightly, after a while it would return to its original level.
Researchers have termed this temporary increase “the fadeout effect”. They’ve concluded that you can’t just change one small aspect and expect massive long- term changes. Intelligence will rise to meet any new challenges and when unchallenged, will subside. They also found that high intelligence at one age may not necessarily predict intelligence at another age.
What Does THis Mean?
So, is there a point in trying to improve intelligence? Do studies like this mean children’s intelligence level is set in stone before they reach school? Not so, according to one of the researchers at the University of California. "I believe it is still a good thing to intervene and try to change the trajectory for these children,” Dr Protzko said in a statement.
While one small change may not have a massive influence on intelligence in the long run, the study still demonstrated that intelligence levels can be increased, at least temporarily. This study also reinforces the view that the social and home environment is just as important to brain development and intelligence as the school environment.
So WHat Helps Children's Intelligence?
Now that we know intelligence can be influenced, at least to an extent, it is important to ask what decisions we can make to best serve children’s developing minds. Although many tactics have been suggested, here we will summarise a few that have received the most academic attention.
So what strategies should caregivers and early educators be using?
It is important that early educators ensure they are bringing spatial thinking to life. This requires teaching unusual shapes and how they apply to everyday life. An excellent way of doing this is introducing maps to the classroom.
In the home, caregivers can further build on this by providing children with books exploring the nature of shapes and space or by discussing the spatial- relevance of day- to- day chores i.e. how can we get all the groceries to fit into one bag? How will we get the sheet to fit on the duvet?
Reading is an area which can be massively influenced by the home environment. The reasons for this are obvious- if books are provided in the home children are dramatically more likely to have a higher reading age than if not. Similarly, if children see parents kicking back with a book for enjoyment then they are far more likely to do the same.
Paired reading is an excellent strategy to improve literacy. It involves a parent or educator reading alongside the child and has excellent scientific backing!
Some methods included in paired reading are providing smiles and encouragement, correcting mispronounced words without criticising and discussing the content of the story.
Such methods can reap great rewards and have been promoted by The National Literacy Trust.
Scientists have found that we are more likely to retain the things we’ve learned if we get some sleep afterwards. This isn’t limited to night but even to naps!
Interestingly, sleep restriction also has a lasting effect on our intelligence. A study conducted in Canada found that kids who did not get enough sleep as toddlers performed poorer on developmental tests when they were six years old. This proved true even for kids who received more sleep after age 3. It therefore seems that early infancy is a super important time to ensure kids are getting their Zs!
Toddlers fed diets filled with salads and fruit have higher IQs than those with diets full of sugar and refined food. Scientists at the University of Bristol were so impressed by their findings that they believe a healthy diet in our younger years can improve intelligence in the long- run. Children’s diets were measured throughout childhood with IQ measured at 8 and a half years old. It seems as if a good diet can go a long way to boost growing kids minds!
It is important to note that intelligence and children’s school performance isn’t everything. It’s much more important to have confident and happy kids. Following these tips though, may give your kids a better start at school and are overall, positive lifestyle changes to consider.
Close, R. (2001). Parental involvement and literacy achievement. National Literacy Trust. Doi: http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/assets/0000/0423/Parental_involvement_2001.pdf
Kurdziel L, Duclos K, and Spencer R. 2013. Sleep spindles in midday naps enhance learning in preschool children. PNAS (epub ahead of print) doi: 10.1073/pnas.1306418110. - See more at: http://www.parentingscience.com/intelligence.html#sthash.5s6ONZgw.dpuf
Northstone, K., Joinson, C., Emmett, P., Ness, A., & Paus, T. (2011). Are dietary patterns in childhood associated with IQ at 8 years of age? A population-based cohort study. Journal of epidemiology and community health, jech-2010.
Protzko, J. (2015). Does the Raising Iq/Raising G Distinction Explain the Fadeout Effect?. Raising G Distinction Explain the Fadeout Effect.
As children move into adolescence, it starts to become real to parents that this once small and helpless baby is soon going to be an independent adult. Many parents may worry about the attitude and disrespect they see in their teen – will they be able to hold a job? Will they be responsible enough to pay their bills?
The questions that come to the minds of parents likely reflect their own values; have they been able to instill values in their teenager? Friends and peers play more of a role in the influence of an adolescent, and some parents may worry that the values with which their teen has grown up are completely lost.
For better or for worse, the values of parents do not always become the values of their children as they reach adolescence and adulthood. There are a number of factors that may influence how likely it is that a teenager will value the same things that their parents do.
Research by Knafo and Schwartz (2012) examined several aspects of the parent-teen relationship and how that impacted the similarity in values. They define values as overarching goals that “serve as guiding principles for behavior, for justifying actions and for evaluating people and events.” The study included 547 families of a teen aged 15-19. Parents were asked to complete a questionnaire about their own values, and also to rate how they would like their teen to respond. Teenagers completed the same questionnaire about their own values and also asked how they think their parents would like them to respond. In addition to the questionnaire about values, teens were also asked to examine their relationship with their parents.
Three Relationship Factors
Knafo and Schwartz were curious about three specific areas within the parent-teen relationship. First, how much the teen identified with their parent; that is, do they see their parent as a role model, do they aspire to be like their parent?
Second, they looked at how teens perceived their parents’ warmth and responsiveness; do they feel their parent is affectionate and sensitive toward them?
Finally, does the teenager view their parent’s words as consistent with their actions?
All Three Are Important
The results of the study found correlations between how much teens look up to their parents (seeing their parents as a role model) and how similar their values were to their parents’.
Importantly, both of these things also correlated with how warm and responsive teens judged their parents to be; that is, the adolescents who felt their parents were affectionate and involved in their lives were more likely to want to emulate their parents and accept their values.
And, not surprisingly, when teens felt that what parents said matched up with actions, they were more likely to accept their values.
It's About Your Relationship
While we want teens to be able to have their own opinions and to discover what they believe for themselves, we also hope that they will accept many of the principles that we have tried to teach them. This study tells us that our relationship with teens is essential in how they accept those principles and values.
Being warm and responsive might involve things like telling your teen that you love them, involving them in making decisions, and providing opportunities for them to talk and be listened to. As well, teens are very perceptive of hypocrisy, so if we expect them to abide by certain rules and values, we have to be able to show them that we also live by those rules.
By Kristi MacDonald
Knafo, A., & Schwartz, S. (2012). Relational identification with parents, parenting, and parent–child value similarity among adolescents. Family Science, 3(1), 13-21. doi:10.1080/19424620.2011.707794
I often speak with people who insist that significant regular alcohol intake is an important part of maintaining their mental health. Obviously many people are aware that significant use of alcohol can damage many aspects of life, but it is nice to have research to back up this assertion.
A recent study conducted by the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research in conjunction with the University of Sussex has found that while people are temporarily happier when drinking alcohol, it leads to lower happiness levels over time. Not surprisingly, those who go on to develop drinking problems are significantly less satisfied with life.
The study utilised an innovative iPhone- based app and a more traditional cohort study design to explore the complex relationship between alcohol consumption and happiness. This study focused not only on how happiness and drinking directly affect each other, but how this relationship evolves over time.
Study 1 examined changes in life satisfaction and weekly alcohol consumption. It did so using a cohort of Britons born in 1970 and the CAGE questionnaire (a screen for problem drinking and alcohol problems). This segment of the study had a large cohort of over 29,000 individuals.
Study 2 meanwhile, recorded changes in happiness levels as individuals were drinking alcohol, using iPhone data which was recorded from a very large sample of over 31,000 individuals. This is the first study to measure alcohol use as it occurs with an iPhone app.
Study 1 found no significant relationship between drinking and life satisfaction but did find a negative association between life satisfaction and potential drinking problems. Study 2 revealed a significant, positive relationship between happiness and drinking.
Researchers controlled for extenuating factors and negative life events (e.g. long- term Illness) in order to ensure results accurately reflected the influence of drinking.
One major limitation of both studies was the limited population sample used. Study 2 for example, involved IPhone users only. Such a sample limits itself to presumably younger and wealthier
populations. Study 1 focused on quite a narrow age range between 30 and 42. These populations are not representative of the general majority, making it difficult to justify generalising the findings. It is however, an interesting starting point for further research.
Alcohol Doesn't Fix Life's Problems
In short, this research found that while the iPhone drinkers were happier at the moment of alcohol consumption, this happiness did not spill over into their wider lives. In fact, alcohol consumption over time led to decreased life satisfaction, in particular when problem drinking was present.
This means that alcohol- related happiness is purely transient - by the next day, or by the time the individual has sobered up, there are no lasting positive effects. It also means however, that drinking appears to have no negative consequences on life- satisfaction in the short term, at least for those without a drinking problem.
The study has real value when it comes to advising policy making. The impact of alcohol on the individual is often simplified in public discussions relating to health and family services rather than happiness or life satisfaction. Unfortunately some individuals would trade long-term health for a happy life. Hopefully this research highlights that even the happiness that alcohol brings is fleeting and often leave more problems the next morning.
In short, the message of this study is the same as many others- most things are okay in moderation but excessive drinking never has positive consequences . If you feel long- term or heavy drinking is affecting your wellbeing do not hesitate to contact your nearest health professional or support service.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
Ben Baumberg Geiger, George MacKerron. Can alcohol make you happy? A subjective wellbeing approach. Social Science & Medicine, 2016; 156: 184