August 4, 2006

‘Playing nice’ at heart of new campaign

Featured Image

Sharica Watson and her sons Romeo, one week, and Robert, 14 months, talk with Courtney Walkowski, a second-year VUSM student, about the Play Nicely computer demonstration in the Acute Care Clinic at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

‘Playing nice’ at heart of new campaign

Parents waiting for a well-child visit at the Acute Care Clinic at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt now have an educational way to pass time before their appointment.

All parents of children up to age 7 are asked to view portions of a multi-media child violence prevention program called “Play Nicely” as part of a pilot study to determine its effectiveness.

The program, which is viewed via two computers in the waiting area of the clinic, allows parents to choose up to 16 options for disciplining their children. Parents are asked: “Assume you see your child hurt another — what should you do?”

Once parents choose an option, they watch a short video about the discipline technique and learn if it is rated an “excellent,” “good” or “not recommended” way to discipline their child for engaging in hurtful behavior.

The goal of “Play Nicely” is to help parents identify and correct hurtful behaviors in the early years, since these behaviors are known as a strong risk factor for violence later in life. The program helps change the way parents respond to their children's hurtful behavior.

Second-year Vanderbilt University School of Medicine student Courtney Ann Walkowski is spending her summer administering the survey.

“We ask parents to view short videos of at least four options and report to us if they find the videos helpful or informative,” she said. “We'll use this information to determine if the program is effective, or if there are changes needed.”

Currently, parents can visit the Family Resource Center at Children's Hospital to view the material.

The program will soon be used in all well-child visits at the Acute Care Clinic. If found effective, “Play Nicely” may also be available in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic to help educate expectant parents.

“Play Nicely” was created by Seth Scholer, M.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics, to show parents the most effective ways to teach their children not to hit, push, poke, punch or otherwise harm others.

For more information about Play Nicely, visit and search with keywords “play nicely.”