Top 5 Parenting Stories This Week

Laptop by Brian MacDonald This has been a busy week for followers of parenting and mental health news - from stories about improving sleep to debates about rewarding children's behaviour to information about research-based mental health treatment. In the spirit of our "Anatomy of Three Things" episodes of the Family Anatomy Podcast, I thought I'd share some links with our readers. Here's some practical information about children and parenting:

Young teens who play sports feel happier and healthier about life - Science Daily

Yet more evidence of the positive impact of sports and exercise on mental health, this Science Daily story describes a recent study published in Applied Research in Quality of Life. Participation on a sports team had a greater impact on happiness and life quality than exercise by itself. We've written previously about the positive impact of team sports on the social anxiety and peer relationships of shy kids. Previous research has also showed a link between sports participation and academic performance.

Springer Science+Business Media (2010, September 22).
Young teens who play sports feel healthier and happier about life.
ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 28, 2010,

Do Rewards Work? - Today's Parent

This article discusses the potential positive and negative impact of incentive programs on kids. On the "Pro" side, clinical psychologist Carolyn Webster-Stratton provides detailed information about how to create an effective program to motivate a change in children's behaviour. Alyson Schafer, psychotherapist and author, expressed concern that reward programs reduce intrinsic motivation. Rather than a traditional reward program ("IF you do this, THEN you receive this reward..."), Schafer recommended a "Now that..." approach, which involves providing children with surprises along with positive feedback.

Parent Time: Do rewards work?
Today's Parent. Retrieved September 29, 2010,

After Traumatic Event, Early Intervention Reduces Odds of PTSD By 73 Percent - Science Daily

The title says it all! A study in a recent issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that a program focused on improving communication between parents or caregivers and children may dramatically reduce the risk that kids will develop post-traumatic stress disorder following a traumatic event. The program, called the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention, teaches caregivers to recognize symptoms and teach coping strategies. The researchers hoped that future studies could validate the effectiveness of the treatment approach, which could then be implemented across the country.

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2010, September 29).
After Traumatic Event, Early Intervention Reduces Odds of PTSD By 73 Percent
ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 29, 2010,

Evidence-Based Mental Health Treatment for Children and Adolescents - ABCT & SCCAP

This site provides information for parents (and professionals) about a wide variety of child and adolescent emotional and behavioural problems, along with treatment options. One of my favourite areas of the site presents information to help parents decide between talking therapy and medication to address mental health concerns; for most disorders, the research shows that cognitive-behavioural therapy is as effective as medication without harmful side effects. Of course, therapy requires a greater time commitment and more effort than taking a pill does.

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies &
Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (2010, September 29).
Evidence-Based Mental Health Treatment for Children and Adolescents
Retrieved September 29, 2010,

14 Strategies for Sleeping Better - PsychCentral

OK, this one is a little older than a week, but sleep problems have been linked to mental health problems and academic difficulties. In one of my favourite recent blog posts, Margarita Tartakovsky provides information about 14 strategies that can be used to improve sleep and combat insomnia. Possibly one of the most difficult, but perhaps the most important, strategies involves keeping a sleep journal. A journal can help you to identify factors and patterns that might contribute to poor sleep. In addition, it's important to keep a record so you'll be aware of improvements in your sleep.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. (2010, September 21).
14 Strategies for Sleeping Better.
PsychCentral. Retrieved September 29, 2010,

There you have it - 5 recent stories with valuable information! If you'd like this to be a regular feature at Family Anatomy, email us at

Note: Posts on Family Anatomy are for education only, and are not intended to replace professional or medical advice. If you need to talk to someone about family or mental health issues, you can get a referral from your family doctor.