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Course Work May Improve Child Behavior

A recent study suggests children who were taught a curriculum that focused on self-control and awareness of their own and others’ emotions display greater social competence and fewer behavioral or emotional problems.

Researchers report their findings in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

When teachers taught a particular curriculum to students for 20-30 minutes-per-day, three times-per-week over a six-month period, lower rates of aggression and anxiety/sadness were seen when evaluated a year later compared to children randomized to normal classroom procedures.

“Several complex cognitive processes, such as the ability to cope in stressful situations, are related to the development of the prefrontal areas of the brain starting in the preschool years,” says study author Mark Greenberg.

“We know that deficiencies in the function of these lobes are linked to problems like aggression, depression and attention disorders.” Therefore, the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) curriculum, which stimulates cognitive and emotional skills, enhances the child’s ability to cope with stress and make good choices.

Greenberg offers an example of a simple PATHS skill that helps children understand and identify feelings in others. “Children use ‘feeling faces’ cards throughout the day to indicate clearly to others what emotions they are experiencing,” says Greenberg.

“By labeling the emotions clearly, children learn to recognize them in themselves and others, which will aid them in managing those emotions.”

The main advantage of this curriculum is its preventive nature. Rather than focusing on treating negative behaviors after they have become stable and disruptive, PATHS provides children with coping strategies to prevent the development of behavioral and emotional difficulties.

Source: Blackwell Publishing

Course Work May Improve Child Behavior

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Course Work May Improve Child Behavior. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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