392 Problem-Solving & Aggressive Kids

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Research by Shure, Myrna B. & Spivack, George (1980). (1982).

Written by American Psychological Association, adapted by
Juanita N Baker, Ph.D.

Why are some children more violent than others? What can parents or teachers do to make them more peaceful? Developmental psychologists Myrna Shure and George Spivack suspected that children behave violently because they lack interpersonal cognitive problem-solving (ICPS) skills.

They studied whether children could learn ICPS skills just like math or grammar. For three months, half of nursery school and kindergarten pupils would play games and practice dialogues about solving problems and expressing their feelings. The researchers did not tell children exactly how to solve their problems, but rather taught the children how to generate possible solutions and how to consider their consequences.

Shure and Spivack found that teaching ICPS skills improved children’s impulsive behavior and social skills compared to children in the control group.  Even well-adjusted children who learned the ICPS skills in nursery school were less likely to develop behavioral difficulties over a two-year period than were well-adjusted children who did not learn these skills and continued to show improvements at the end of fourth grade.

Parents and teachers learn how to teach your young children problem-solving skills that consider alternatives so they can use their skills rather than their emotions! 

Cited Research

Shure, M.B. & Spivack, G. (1980). Interpersonal problem solving as a mediator of behavioral adjustment in preschool and kindergarten children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 1, 29-44.

Shure, M.B. & Spivack, G. (1982). Interpersonal problem-solving in young children: A cognitive approach to prevention. American Journal of Community Psychology, 10, 341-356.

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About Author

Adele Hall is the administrative assistant for the School of Psychology in charge of uploading the Psychology Science minutes. The authors of the minutes are listed in the written portion. The Psychology Science Minutes are coordinated by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D., faculty emerita, and reviewed by former Dean Mary Beth Kenkel, faculty emerita.

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