Positive Parenting October 7, 2009

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If you have a child between the ages of 5 and 11 with signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder who also argues, disobeys and refuses to follow instructions, you may be one of a growing number of Central Texas parents wondering whether all children are this challenging. Research indicates that training parents to manage the behavior is more effective than working with the child individually. As a result, the Texas Child Study Center, a collaborative effort between the University of Texas at Austin Educational Psychology Department and Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas, developed a group program called Positive Parenting to help parents learn behavior management techniques.

Psychologist Jane S. Gray, PhD specializes in cognitive behavioral approaches to problems in children and is an experienced coach for parents of children with ADHD and disruptive behavior.

"Many parents think they are alone in facing these challenges. A lot of the kids we see on an individual basis present with ADHD as well as oppositional behaviors. Studies indicate more than half of kids diagnosed with ADHD also have oppositional and /or aggressive behavior. A large percentage of the parents are frustrated and don't know what to do. Because parents spend much more time with a child than a therapist would, a parent-focused approach tends to be much more effective in managing these aggressive behaviors."

Dr. Gray focuses on teaching parents new tools to manage their child's behavior and helping them modify tools they already have. The skills that can be learned include: building more positive interactions through play, reinforcing positive behaviors with praise, ignoring minor misbehavior, giving instructions effectively, beginning a reward system, and implementing time out procedures.

"This group can teach parents to manage mild forms of aggression such as hitting, spitting or kicking that doesnt lead to serious harm." adds Dr. Gray. "It's not a good fit for parents of children experiencing severe behavioral disorders or explosive episodes that can seriously hurt others."

Many parents coping with these children find themselves locked in a negative, coercive cycle characterized by a lack of positive interaction with their children. Many barriers exist for parents trying to implement a system at home including stress, work and child schedules, lack of time, and behavior so challenging that it's hard for parents to get motivated. The group recognizes these challenges and helps parents overcome barriers in a setting that is nonjudgmental and includes other parents struggling with the similar challenges. The program will begin in late October and requires an intake appointment to determine whether it is a good fit for the participants. Call the Texas Child Study Center at 512-324-3315 for more information.

"Our goal is to help parents become better equipped to cope with this disorder and to develop more positive relationships between parents and children," says Dr. Gray. "This is a closed group, so we won't accept any new referrals once it begins. Anyone with questions should contact us sooner rather than later."

Jane S. Gray, PhD

Dr. Gray specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy with youth. She has taught and supervised clinicians and students learning a cognitive behavioral approach. Dr. Gray is also involved in research within the Texas Child Study Center. Her research interests have focused on the effectiveness for evidence-based interventions in clinical settings, and more recently on programs for overweight youth to improve self-esteem, nutrition, and physical activity.

She received her PhD in school psychology from The University of Texas at Austin. She completed her internship at the Children's Hospital Boston and her postdoctoral fellowship at Judge Baker Children's Center, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Gray is an adjunct assistant professor in the Educational Psychology department at The University of Texas at Austin.

Texas Child Study Center
1600 W. 38th St., Suite 212
Austin, Texas 78731

Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas and The University of Texas at Austin Educational Psychology Department joined forces to create the Texas Child Study Center, a place where children and adolescents with emotional, developmental, and behavioral challenges can seek care. Texas Child Study Center is committed to providing the highest quality of emotional and cognitive treatment for the youth and families of Central Texas.

The Texas Child Study Center provides evidence-based treatment for children and adolescents with emotional, behavioral, and developmental disabilities. We aim to develop disease-specific evaluative and interventional programs to address autism spectrum disorders, depression, and other mental health issues. We also strive to serve the needs of acute and chronic medically ill youth and their families. Through research programs, the Texas Child Study Center seeks to advance the science of the etiology and treatment of emotional, behavioral, and developmental disorders in youth.

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