Psychologists have developed an intervention program aimed at children as young as 3, which could assist in preventing antisocial behavior later in life. Additionally, initial reports from the first year of this program’s study states an 86% reduction in symptoms such as shyness, depression and social isolation for the children who participated.

Education program developed for preventing antisocial behavior in 3-year-old children

University of Granada researchers have developed a pioneer intervention program aimed at 3 year-old children, that helps in preventing antisocial behavior in adulthood. In its first year of implementation, the program –named Aprender a convivir– achieved that 90% of participating children interacted more actively with their peers, and that 86% reduced symptoms such as anxiety/depression, somatization, poor emotional reactivity, shyness, and social isolation.

To carry out this study –funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science–, the researchers took a sample of 131 children aged 3. The control group consisted of 53 subjects, and the experimental group was composed of 78. The later was trained with the program Aprender a convivir for 3 months and they were evaluated before and after the intervention.

The program was divided into four blocks with a duration of 3 weeks respectively. Two 1.5 hour-sessions were held per week. In the first half of the session, three puppets explained to the children the contents of the session. Then, different activities were developed in small groups.

More Independent Children

The results obtained revealed that the children having participated in the program Aprender a convivir were more independent, complied with established rules, shared their things, respected others’ feelings, expressed their own, helped their peers and teachers, paid attention, apologized, thanked others and showed less aggressive/violent behavior, than those who had not participated in the program.

This research was conducted by María Fernández Cabezas, Department of Evolutionary and Education Psychology, University of Granada, and coordinated by professors Fernando Justicia Justicia, Carmen Pichardo Martínez and Trinidad García Berbén. However, it is a 5-year project aimed at studying the effects of training on social competences from early childhood for reducing behavior disorders.

Potential Improvement in Academic Performance

After their participation in the program Aprender a convivir, the percentage of children scoring high in Social Competence increased from 7.8% to 47.8%. As regards behavior disorders, the program reduced the percentage of children with this problem from 27.8% to 11.9%. In addition, 60% of participants experienced an improvement in their attention-deficit and hyperactivity, which will have a positive impact on their academic and learning performance.

After completion of this research, the authors of this study concluded that it is necessary that social and emotional education is provided in primary school in a systematic and rigorous way, and that the results obtained are assessed. “Therefore, it would be positive that this program was implemented in the future by primary teachers, and that the results obtained were extended to other environments such as families” –María Fernández Cabezas says.

Contact: María Fernández Cabezas
Source: University of Granada

Intervention Program Prevents Later Life Antisocial Behavior Problems

Research suggests early educational intervention program could prevent antisocial behavior problems later in life. Image: Niko Lipsanen,