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Order in the home: A buffer to bad behavior?

Posted: 3:11 PM, Jan 13, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-13 17:27:43-05

ORLANDO, Fla. — Studies show teens growing up in poverty are more likely to engage in problem behavior and experience poor academic outcomes.

But research out of Temple University shows that a family’s home environment can protect against that. Overcrowding, disorganization, and chaos often accompany financial strain and can have negative effects on your kids.

Researchers from Temple University interviewed 115 teens and their caregivers from a low-income inner-city neighborhood. They found that the teens who lived in a home with high levels of organization and consistency were less negatively affected by financial strain.

They also found that family routines were predictive of reduced problem behavior and improved school achievement. Families with greater financial hardships particularly benefited from routines. The study suggests that family routines can buffer teens against the negative impacts of the chaos, unpredictability, and stress associated with financial hardship.

Parents can try a variety of things: for example, try to eat dinner together, have a regular bedtime on the weekends and weeknights, have a dedicated space and time to do homework, and have consistent enforcement of rules. These can provide kids with a sense of stability and predictability in the home.

The average length of time the participants spent in their current home was ten years and two-thirds of the participants in the study reported a yearly income of $20,000 or less, suggesting that many of the participants experienced chronic poverty.