UW News

February 10, 2005

New approaches to preventing behavior problems

A national expert on child development will speak at the Center on Human Development and Disability (CHDD) on Thursday, Feb. 24. Dr. Robert H. Bradley, professor at the Center for Applied Studies in Education, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will discuss “New Avenues for Preventing Behavior Problems in Young Children” in a public lecture from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the CHDD auditorium, CD-150. The lecture is open to everyone.

Bradley is an expert in a wide array of topics related to children, including cross-cultural considerations of home environments, family influences on children with disabilities and typically developing children, and ecological factors affecting child health and development. He is chair of the Biobehavioral and Behavioral Research Committee of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and a member of the Advisory Committee for the Maternal Lifestyles Study of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

His research interests include relationships between children’s experiences in their family environments and various aspects of their well-being—social, cognitive, emotional, health and growth; measures of parenting and the child’s physical environment; impact of socioeconomic status on well-being; early education programs for high-risk children and families; early intervention for children with disabilities and chronic medical problems; child care; fathering; and cultural and cross-cultural issues pertaining to parenting and child well-being.

“When the topic of bad behavior in children arises,” says Bradley, “advice often focuses on what parents should do—engage in positive forms of parenting such as being sensitive and providing appropriate structure and demands—or not do —engage in negative forms of parenting such as spanking or being inconsistent or indifferent. But children build capacities for self-regulation and self-control from the totality of their experience. Self-control is a set of interrelated functions that help a child adapt to the environment. Control doesn’t involve just putting on the brakes, but applying energy toward a variety of goals. A diverse array of opportunities for productive activity increases the likelihood that a child will learn how to avoid circumstances that lead to inappropriate behavior and engage in activities that produce positive emotional/mood states.”

Bradley’s visit to the UW is sponsored by CHDD’s Research Emphasis Area on Ecological Factors. For more information, contact Dr. Susan Spieker at spieker@u.washington.edu or 206-543-8453.