The parents had taken part in the Incredible Years parenting programme which teaches behaviour management techniques to adults, teachers and children.
Across the country, up to 11,000 children and their parents are taking part in the 14-week early intervention courses which are run by Archways Ltd.
The research conducted by Dr Sinead McGilloway from NUI Maynooth’s Department of Psychology also found that while children aged 3-6, who have emotional and behavioural problems, can expect to cost the state up to €4,600 per child in extra educational and psychological services, this course costs just €1,500 per child.
“Six months later there was dramatic improvements in the children who completed the course compared to those who were still on the waiting list. Our research on the parents found that they were more confident in their parenting afterwards, were less critical of their children and suffered less health problems such as anxiety and depression,” Dr McGilloway said.
Prior to the early intervention course the 149 children who were studied as part of the research refused to take orders, were prone to violent outbursts or extreme cheekiness, were hitting other children and were experiencing difficulty in settling into educational settings.
Incredible Years began here six years ago as a pilot project at Clondalkin Partnership and has spread nationwide. Children’s groups are calling for the programme to be made available to all children.
An Incredible Years conference was opened in Kilmainham yesterday by Minister for Children Barry Andrews who said these early intervention courses help to resolve children’s emotional problems before they become much bigger issues for society.
Archways chief executive Aileen O’Donoghue said childhood behavioural problems have serious implications.
“The presence ofembedded emotional and behavioural difficulties in childhood has been shown to predict a trajectory towards drug and alcohol misuse, truancy, school failure and drop out, delinquency and criminal behaviour and violence.
“The Incredible Years programme has a proven capacity to bring about positive change in the behaviour of children experiencing these difficulties and as such can lead to the prevention, interruption or elimination of this negative life cycle.”