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Supportive co-parenting may reduce some child behavior problems
Date:3/3/2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio Warm, cooperative co-parenting between mothers and fathers may help protect children who are at risk for some types of behavior problems, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that supportive co-parenting helped children who have difficulty regulating their behavior and attention levels what researchers call effortful control.

The study looked at changes in children's level of aggressive behavior and other forms of "acting out" as they went from 4 years old to 5 years old.

Results showed that children who had low levels of effortful control generally showed increases in these negative behaviors over the course of the year unless their parents had a supportive co-parenting relationship.

"It's a positive message for parents," said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, lead author of the study and assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.

"If you support your spouse in front of your child, show that you are a united front, it can help prevent some behavior problems in children who may be at risk."

While it is no surprise that supportive parenting is good for children, relatively few studies have examined the role of co-parenting how parents interact together while parenting their child - in childhood development, Schoppe-Sullivan said. Most studies only look at the effect of mothers' parenting on children.

Effortful control is an aspect of temperament, and is influenced by genetics, although early environment also seems to play a role, Schoppe-Sullivan said. The trait is generally stable over time, meaning that children who have trouble controlling their attention and behavior in early childhood tend to still have the problem when they enter school.

"If you have a child who has trouble controlling his or her behavior, that's not a problem that often goes away," she said. "That's one reason why it is so significant that positive co-parenting
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Contact: Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan
schoppe-sullivan.1@osu.edu
614-688-3437
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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