Tag Archives: parenting

Neurobiology of Parenting Conference (2015): Swedish Child Health Fields’ Treatment of Fathers

The Neurobiology of Parenting Conference (2015) took place in Stockholm, Sweden. The conference was organized by the Swedish Society of Medicine, but also with Acta Paediatrica (an academic journal), Sällskapet Barnavård, John Lind Stiftelsen, and Karolinska Institutet

Swedish doctor holds his cigar: A bygone time of medical astuteness that’s still amply displayed at the Swedish Society of Medicine.

There were probably 150-200 people, with researchers from around the world attending.

Great view from the windows of the Swedish Society of Medicine.
Great view from the windows of the Swedish Society of Medicine.

I have been locked into the psychological world of parenting, only minorly breaking out into public health and sociology. Therefore, learning about the neurobiology of parenting was a true gift and opened my eyes to a wealth of research that I hadn’t contemplated (or as the colloquial axiom goes: you don’t know, what you don’t know).

Naturally, a history lesson helped kick-off the conference.


It was interesting to see all of the research on skin-to-skin contact.


As well as the research on the alleged plasticity of the human brain with respect to parental caregiving. Apparently our brains can change based on the amount of caregiving we do (or at least that’s a basic way of stating intricate diagrams).



In other words, fathers can be just as caring and sensitive as mothers, but they need to take on primary parenting roles for these chemical changes to occur. This flies in the face of previous research which suggested that mothers gain their maternal instincts by virtue of being pregnant and the chemical changes that occur during gestation.


I presented less on neurobiology (since that’s certainly not my field) and more on the Swedish child health field’s attitude and (lack of) support they provide fathers.

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My poster based on my PhD dissertation.

Despite my poster not being on neurobiology, I ran into several other researchers who were interested in my research and who, themselves, conducted very similar research….so I fit right in.

The 2.5 day conference may not have been my area of expertise, but I still learned a lot, and will use a lot!

Child behaviour problems, parenting behaviours and parental adjustment in mothers and fathers in Sweden

Publishing aScreen Shot 2014-07-09 at 1.59.00 PM peer-reviewed article is always important in the academic world. Not only do you get to promote yourself and your abilities, but more importantly, you get to promote your findings. Better still would be for someone to pick up your work and institute change based on your findings.

It is our hope that Swedish politicians and bureaucrats take heed of the messages within this article, and further help in providing needed support to parents who struggle with child behavior problems.

Raziye Salari was the lead author on a paper entitled Child behaviour problems, parenting behaviours and parental adjustment in mothers and fathers in Sweden. Anna Sarkadi and myself were co-authors.

The article is published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health.

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The abstract and link to the full article can also be found on my researchgate page.

Main message:

Although Sweden is seen as a country that promotes parenting and has lots of family policies to encourage strong parent-child relationships, parents in Sweden still may struggle with child behavioral issues. Therefore, support for these parents is still needed and warranted.

To see the abstract, click here (or read below):

Aims: We aim to examine the relationship between child behavioural problems and several parental factors, particularly parental behaviours as reported by both mothers and fathers in a sample of preschool children in Sweden.

Methods: Participants were mothers and fathers of 504 3- to 5-year-olds that were recruited through preschools. They completed a set of questionnaires including the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory, Parenting Sense of Competence Scale, Parenting
Scale, Parent Problem Checklist, Dyadic Adjustment Scale and Depression Anxiety Stress Scale.

Results: Correlational analyses showed that parent-reported child behaviour problems were positively associated with ineffective parenting practices and interparental conflicts and negatively related to parental competence. Regression analyses showed that, for both mothers and fathers, higher levels of parental over-reactivity and interparental conflict over child-rearing issues and lower levels of parental satisfaction were the most salient factors in predicting their reports of disruptive child behaviour.

Conclusions: This study revealed that Swedish parents’ perceptions of their parenting is related to their ratings of child behaviour problems which therefore implies that parent training programs can be useful in addressing behavioural problems in Swedish children.


Now I can officially call myself a public health researcher!


Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI)

The Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI) is a parent rating scale that assesses child behavior problems using two scales: the intensity scale and the problem scale. The intensity scale is seen as the more objective scale, as it measures how frequent particular behaviors occur within the child, while the problem scale measures whether or not the parent sees that behavior as a problem.

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For example, perhaps a child hits their sibling. Hitting the sibling might be part of the intensity scale, while if the parent things this is a problem is part of the problem scale (i.e. one parent may say “hitting should never be allowed” while the other says “siblings will be siblings”–even though both agree that the child does hit their sibling. Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 10.41.09 AM

The tool can be used for children who are between 2 to 16 years old and the examination takes about 5-10 minutes (using the full 36-item questionnaire). There is also a revised edition with only 22 questions, called the ECBI-22. Both parents and professionals can use the tool.

For more information see:

ECBI’s website for purchasing the product.

General information on ECBI, as well as some citations and the reliability and validity numbers.

Some good citations for ECBI are:

Axberg, U., Hanse, J. J., & Broberg, A. G. (2008). Parents’ description of conduct     problems in their children – A test of the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI) in a Swedish sample aged 3–10. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 49, 497-505.

Burns, G., & Patterson, D. R. (2000). Factor structure of the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory: A parent rating scale of oppositional defiant behavior toward adults, inattentive behavior, and conduct problem behavior. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 29(4), 569-577.

Eyberg, S. M., & Pincus, D. (1999). Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory and Sutter-Eyberg Student Behavior Inventory: Professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Rich, B. A., & Eyberg, S. M. (2001). Accuracy of assessment: the discriminative and predictive power of the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory. Ambulatory Child Health, 7(3-4), 249-257.

Obese Hispanics in America

A recent article was published by Dr Glenn Flores on the amount of obese Hispanic children living in America. Healthfinder.gov then wrote an article about Flores’ article, quoting Flores as saying “Almost half of all Latino kids are either overweight or obese…It’s an important issue in terms of our future generations. If we intervene early enough, we won’t have obese adults.”

One thing I don’t like about Media articles is that we have no idea how Flores came to the conclusion that 50% of all Hispanic children are obese. That’s not to say that it’s not true, but Flores conducted a qualitative study on 19 people, so that statement (aka ‘fact’) isn’t supported by his current publication.

Assuming Flores’ contention that half of Latino kids are overweight or obese, he is absolutely wrong in stating that early intervention leads to the elimination of obese adults. Flores’ statement suggests that obese adults were also overweight or obese as children. Research (and anecdotal evidence) has shown that some people are skinny/fit in childhood, but develop into obese adults.

For example, Singh et al. (2008) outright stated in their literature review on overweight and obese children, “it must be considered that comparison of youth and adult prevalence rates of overweight indicates that the majority of overweight adults were not overweight during childhood.

When Flores sticks to the point of his article, we learn that Hispanic parents can help children lose weight by “encouragement, not making the child feel left out, the whole family eating healthy and the parent setting a good example.” Brilliant! Ground Breaking! Now let’s develop some interventions that are beneficial, since clearly Hispanic parents know what to do to provide their child with a healthy, they just aren’t doing it (according to Flores’ statements).

The only barrier stated in the article is that team sports are hard to come by in the inner city. I am sure there are many more barriers to providing your child with a healthy lifestyle. After all, not all Hispanic children become obese because it’s difficult to join a team sport.