Feature

Parents are hungry for advice on how to raise their children, seeking guidance on how to prompt kids to follow through with such everyday responsibilities as doing their homework and cleaning their rooms, as well as insights on the best ways to help them stave off unhealthy behaviors, such as too much screen time and substance use.

Where can psychologists send parents for the guidance they need outside the practitioner’s office? The Monitor asked top developmental, clinical and family psychologists for their wisdom on the best evidence-based resources for parents. Here are six.

1. Infoaboutkids.org

This website is a clearinghouse of behavioral science on children and adolescents, developed by the Consortium for Science-Based Information on Children, Youth and Families, the leaders of seven APA divisions that want to increase public access to quality information on children and families. Geared toward parents, educators and behavioral health specialists, the site covers common parenting concerns, such as sleep difficulties, drug and alcohol use, puberty and much more, says Mary Ann McCabe, PhD, who chairs the website’s advisory board and is a past president of Div. 37 (Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice), one of the divisions in the consortium.

Every resource has been vetted by psychologists to ensure its advice is based on solid research and is bias-free. The site also features a monthly blog that explores common issues parents face, such as when to worry about a child’s mood and how best to help children of military families cope with a parent’s deployment.

Perhaps most useful of all, the site can help parents determine for themselves which childhood behaviors are part of normal development and which might need a psychologist’s attention.

"So many things that parents consider to be problems are often really normal, or changes from an earlier state of child development," says McCabe, an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences.

2. Effectivechildtherapy.org

Developed through a partnership between APA Div. 53 (Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology) and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, this website offers information on the symptoms of and treatments for behavioral and mental health problems in children and adolescents. The site also helps parents determine whether a child’s behavior is normal or is a sign of a bigger issue, and offers guidance on selecting a child psychologist.

In addition, Effective Child Therapy showcases the strong science behind today’s successful treatments. "The site aims to teach parents about evidence-based practice and provide them with a constantly updated list of treatments that have been demonstrated to work for specific disorders in childhood and adolescence," says Div. 53 President Mitch Prinstein, PhD, director of clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

3. ACT Raising Safe Kids Program

Developed by APA’s Violence Prevention Office, this eight-week class teaches positive parenting skills to parents of young children to foster safe, stable, healthy and nurturing environments and relationships that prevent children’s exposure to abuse and adversities.

The ACT website, www.apa.org/act, provides caregivers with insights into the class curriculum, information on how to find a local ACT class and child-development worksheets that list the basic cognitive and social/emotional skills expected at different ages and stages of development. Caregivers can also find tips on how to handle typical scenarios they may encounter with their children, such as school bullying or a tantrum.

4. Everyday Parenting: The ABCs of Child Rearing

This free online parenting course was developed by former APA President Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, director of the Yale Parenting Center. The course provides 20 how-to videos explaining parenting techniques that address problem behaviors at home and school. In each video, Kazdin instructs parents on the importance of speaking to their children in a calm or playful tone and allowing kids to make choices whenever possible. Kazdin also emphasizes the use of strategic and special praise.

Scores of studies back these approaches. "Our research shows that once parents begin implementing these changes, parent depression goes down, stress in the home goes down and the relationship among family members really improves," Kazdin says.

The course is based on the Yale Parenting Center’s evidence-based Parent Managment Training program, as well as other parenting programs, including parent-child interaction ­therapy and the Triple P—Positive Parenting Program. Go to alankazdin.com and search for "ABCs."

5. Resilience Booster: Parent Tip Tool

Developed by APA’s Children, Youth, and Families Office and its Office on Socioeconomic Status, this site provides parents and caregivers with tips on how to boost children’s resilience in the face of adverse experiences. This site is organized around the various places where children spend their time—home, school, child-care settings, neighborhoods and communities—and outlines how each environment can help build resilience among children living in poverty. Tips include establishing routines in the home, modeling self-control and problem-solving, getting to know your neighbors, and seeking out and/or requesting a classroom with children of differing ability levels.

The site also features a discussion of the importance of reading, singing and dancing with young children and tips on how to help older children achieve positive developmental outcomes, despite negative and even traumatic experiences, says Lauren Fasig Caldwell, JD, PhD, director of APA’s Children, Youth, and Families Office. Go to www.apa.org and search for "Booster."

6. Magination Press

APA’s children’s book imprint offers more than 180 titles that help practitioners, educators, parents and other caregivers guide their children through a variety of challenges, such as starting school, shyness, divorce, autism, trauma and death. While some books are written exclusively for therapists to use in sessions with their clients, many are for children and parents to read together. Every book includes a section for parents and caregivers, written by a psychologist, that provides the psychological science behind the story as well as practical tools and strategies that parents can use with their children. Go to www.apa.org and search for "Magination."