I don't watch much TV. But I'm planning to change. A few days ago, the mother of one of my patients told me how much she learned from the TV show Nanny 911. She learned, for example, that being firm but kind worked better than yelling. "It's amazing," the woman explained. "It worked like magic!" I was happy for this mother, but could not help feeling a little miffed, since I had been trying to teach her the same lesson for the past six months.
Psychologists have long known what makes for effective parenting. Study after study agrees: effective parents are kind and firm. They give their children love -- and they set clear limits.
Unfortunately, helping parents become effective isn't as easy as simply telling them what works. Some parents learn by listening, but others learn best by being shown. And if it takes a TV show to show them, then maybe TV isn't entirely worthless. But that's about all I can say about the nanny show, because I haven't watched it yet. I will, though. Tomorrow.
In the meantime, I do know about a different kind of parenting program that has actually been proven to work. One program, which is becoming more and more well known, is called the Positive Parenting Program, or "Triple P." Another is called "The Incredible Years."
Both of these programs combine videos of expert parents with written guidance and coaching by trained professionals. Research shows that parents come out of these programs more firm, more kind, and more effective. You can read more about Triple P and The Incredible Years at their Web sites, http://www.triplep-america.com/ and http://www.incredibleyears.com/.