Helping children succeed

Date published: 2008-08-18 12:14:56 PM

Richard Tremblay wants every child to live a happy, productive and peaceful life. After decades of research, the professor of psychology and psychiatry at the Université de Montréal is convinced that most children can.

Canada Research Chair in Child Development, Tremblay has spearheaded a series of large longitudinal studies that have changed the way psychiatrists and psychologists view early childhood development. His research shows that humans are born with a tendency to use aggression and that during early childhood, humans must learn other means of getting their way.

While most families support children’s growth into non-violent adolescents, Tremblay has found it is critical to intervene with appropriate programs for children at risk for chronic aggression. He has identified risk factors that can handicap a child’s ability to learn alternatives to aggression. (A critical window for such learning typically opens for children between the ages of two and four.) Early intervention dramatically reduces the likelihood of violent behaviour in adolescence.

Tremblay’s research has been embraced in Canada, Ireland, France, Italy and Brazil where intervention programs are unfolding that support families at risk.

Richard Tremblay, psychology, Université de Montréal