Don't Blame Parents for Sins of the Child

Outside forces can unleash violence like Boston bombings, Sandy Hook school shooting, experts say

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Having one good friend their age, or even older, also helps prevent aggressive behavior. "That can really buffer a child from a lot of negative repercussions," Leff added.

Parents can think of their goal as building resilience in their children, and it starts as early as infancy, Mogil said.

"One of the things we know even about newborn babies is that when they're picked up and nurtured they cry less in the second six months of life," Mogil said. "They know someone will be there for them."

Mogil said parents can weave resilient-behavior messages into everyday life. If you're cut off in traffic, you might remark that that wasn't smart, she said. But keep your cool. "Use those as teachable moments," she added.

Family communication is key, Mogil said. As a child enters adolescence it is normal for them to separate. But stay available, she said, and be there for a hug or to talk about confusing life issues.

Resilient families usually get their kids involved in extracurricular activities that expose children to a network of other helpful adults -- coaches, teachers and other parents, Mogil said.

Another simple tip: Limit your child's exposure to violent imagery in video games, on television and online, Sotelo said.

"As parents, we might not be able to control everything. We can't control their genetics, the personality traits they're born with," she said. "But early recognition of a problem, early diagnosis and treatment, and a supportive, loving home environment -- that's our biggest role in terms of prevention."

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about positive parenting.

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