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Happy Parents Make Happy Children

Japanese Chinese

As a pediatrician, my primary mission is to diagnose and treat illness in children. That remains unchanged today, but having developed an interest in child development, I have come to understand that curing disease alone is not enough to ensure the good health of children. Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines "health" as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity."

The main aim of treatment is to cure illness, and today even in areas of medicine that have primarily sought to achieve a high cure rate in the past, it has become standard practice for good treatment to also consider the post-treatment psychological and social conditions of the patient.

The concept of Quality of Life (QOL) is applied in the assessment of good treatment, but because the term is a bit awkward when translated directly into Japanese, the acronym QOL has come to be used recently.

In other words, even if the patient is cured of the illness, if the patient has not recovered mentally and socially to conditions prior to the illness, the treatment is considered to be inadequate.

Today, criteria that assess daily life and QOL without relating to illness have been formulated, and it has become possible to measure the QOL of daily life, in addition to clinical observation.

In pediatric neurology, which is my field of medicine, interest in medical treatment for developmental disorders has grown in recent years. It is well known that among children with developmental disorders, children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) not only have difficulty paying attention and are constantly restless, but their QOL also suffers because of these symptoms.

Over the past several years, with funding from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, I have conducted research surveys on the QOL and self-esteem of children in Japan and other Asian countries. The surveys are now undergoing analysis and showing some interesting results regarding QOL. Take, for example, the title here, "Happy Parents Make Happy Children." With the cooperation of the parents of children aged 5 and 7, a survey was conducted on the QOL of children and parents (mainly mothers) as well as family and preschool/school life and behavioral characteristics of children.

Factors affecting children's QOL were statistically analyzed, and among the many factors, parental QOL and the child's attention deficit were extracted. While the negative effect of difficulty in paying attention was not surprising, results indicating the positive effect of parental QOL on child QOL were unexpected. The survey asked parents a number of questions about family income, their educational background, etc., and it became clear that among the numerous factors involved, only these two factors, parental QOL and the child's attention deficit, were statistically significant. Considering recent issues related to the parent-child relationship (abuse, attachment, overly-protective relationship, etc.), it is also possible to consequently view the parent-child relationship today as one between two unrelated, independent people, not two family members, but this survey indicates that QOL is shared by both parents and the child.

If parents want to make their children happy, they should start by becoming happy themselves.

sakakihara_2013.jpg Yoichi Sakakihara
M.D., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Ochanomizu University; Director of Child Research Net, Executive Advisor of Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute (BERD), President of Japanese Society of Child Science. Specializes in pediatric neurology, developmental neurology, in particular, treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Asperger's syndrome and other developmental disorders, and neuroscience. Born in 1951. Graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Tokyo in 1976 and taught as an instructor in the Department of the Pediatrics before working with Ochanomizu University.