The Terrible Twos or a Behavior Disorder?
Every parent has experienced it, a child’s meltdown in the grocery store, or a tantrum at the park. It’s just the terrible twos, as everyone says. But for some parents, the terrible twos are more than just terrible. They’re unmanageable, constant, and escalating.
For Dr. Lauren Wakschlag and her team at IJR, the question is where the dividing line lies between a normal temper tantrum and early signs of a behavior disorder. Wakschlag is directing a long-term study with collaborators from both IJR and other leading universities to identify the characteristics of disruptive behavior disorders as early as age 3.
Wakschlag is also working to replicate a critical finding from her earlier work: that maternal smoking affects early brain development and self-control. She and her colleagues Dr. Barbara Danis, Carol Hill, and others are also working with families to help them effectively cope with their children’s behavior disorders. From parenting practices to neighborhood conditions, IJR researchers recognize and treat the wide array of forces that influence child behavior. Linking these complex and multiple biological, psychological, and social influences on development—an IJR tradition—holds great promise for helping improve treatments and prevention.