Objective: Despite recognition of the need for parenting interventions to prevent childhood behavioral problems, few community programs have been evaluated. This report describes the randomized controlled evaluation of a four-session psychoeducational group for parents of preschoolers with behavior problems, delivered in community agencies.
Method: In 1998, 222 primary caregivers, recruited through community ads, filled out questionnaires on parenting practices and child behavior. Parents were randomly assigned to immediate intervention or a wait-list control. The intervention comprised three weekly group sessions and a 1-month booster, the focus being to support effective discipline (using the video 1-2-3 Magic) and to reduce parent-child conflict.
Results: Using an intent-to-treat analysis, repeated-measures analyses of variance indicated that the parents who received the intervention reported significantly greater improvement in parenting practices and a significantly greater reduction in child problem behavior than the control group. The gains in positive parenting behaviors were maintained at 1-year follow-up in a subset of the experimental group.
Conclusions: This brief intervention program may be a useful first intervention for parents of young children with behavior problems, as it seems both acceptable and reasonably effective.