Different punishment needed for antisocial children

Filed under: Development/Milestones: Babies

An article in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology reported the evaluation of a child-management training program for parents reveals that four to eight year-old boys who have a "callous-unemotional" (CU) temperament are less responsive to discipline, such as time-out, compared to children without these traits. Children with a CU-temperament tend to show a lack of empathy and guilt about the impact of their actions on others. The author noted that behavioral problems are often more extreme among children who have CU traits, which can include deliberate or predatory aggression, deliberate rule-breaking, stealing, lying, and disobedience. They exhibit a low level of emotionality and are unresponsive to emotions in others, especially when it comes to aggression. The finding means that these children may require different approaches to discipline than those that work for most children.

Making this less than a cheery report, the study did not report any ways to treat these kids. It seems, however, that by being close to your child from baby onward might prevent the CU temperament. Any comments? Most explanations have focused on stressors in the family that affect parenting, however research is only starting to look at characteristics of the child may influence the effectiveness of current treatments.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.