Members in the Media
From: U.S. News & World Report

Happy Kids a Product of Genes, Parenting, Study Finds

U.S. News & World Report:

As scientists continue to tease out the impact of nature versus nurture, it appears that kids unlucky enough to get a “downer” personality gene can end up with sunnier outlooks when they’re parented in a warm, positive manner.

A new study on nearly 1,900 children aged 9 through 15 with a gene variation predisposing them to lower serotonin levels in the brain — which can lead to a gloomier disposition — suggests the youths were more likely to maintain happier emotions when exposed to positive parenting. So-called “genetically susceptible” children who experienced unsupportive parenting showed fewer positive emotions in the three independent experiments comprising the study.

Study author Benjamin L. Hankin, an associate professor of clinical child and developmental cognitive neuroscience psychology at the University of Denver, used a horticultural analogy of weeds versus orchids to describe how genes and upbringing combine to affect children’s outcomes.

Read the whole story: U.S. News & World Report

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Now that we know positive parenting makes moody children happier, what’s involved in being a positive parent?

Positive parenting includes three main characteristics based upon my forty years of clinical practice with children and their families, (1) validating feelings, (2) acknowledging and accepting a child’s individuality (temperament trait uniqueness) and (3) setting limits supportively. The result: children feeling understood (“I’m Okay”) and learning self-control.

Validating feelings is the key to positive parenting with moody children. “You should be upset when your sister grabs your toy but we need to find a way to handle your anger better.” Your child feels, “Anger is acceptable and I’m still Okay, but I do need to show it differently.”

When you say, “Stop hitting your sister. Go to your room.” Your child thinks, “I’m bad.” Not good for moody children. Always split the feeling from the behavior and impose consequences for misbehavior. Gary M Unruh MSW Author

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