Multi-Session Parenting Skills Programs
In addition to school-based programs, child-adjustment benefits have been demonstrated for two parenting-focused preventive interventions. Both programs are for mothers whose children reside with them following divorce.
Parenting Through Change. Parenting Through Change (PTC) is a 14-session group intervention designed to teach parenting skills, including noncoercive discipline, appropriatepositive reinforcement, monitoring andproblem-solving. It also teaches techniques to help mothers control negative emotions and handle interpersonal conflicts (Forgatch and DeGarmo, 1999). The intervention also included mid-week phone calls to encourage use of parenting skills and individual sessions as needed.
In an experimental trial with mothers of boys ages 6 to 10 whose parents had separated, boys whose mothers participated in the PTC program exhibited lower noncompliance at 30-months follow-up, compared to randomized, no-treatment controls (Martinez and Forgatch, 2001). Participating in PTC was associated with reductions inmothers' coercive discipline and maintenance of positive parenting practices (Forgatch and DeGarmo, 1999), which accounted for the intervention effect on noncompliance at the 30-month follow-up (Martinez and Forgatch, 2001).
New Beginnings Program. The New Beginnings Program (NBP) is the first preventive intervention for children of divorce that was subjected to methodologically rigorous evaluation with evidence of long-term effects on a wide range of mental health, substance use and academic outcomes in adolescence (Wolchik et al., 2002). The 11-session intervention is designed to improve mother-child relationships, increase effective discipline, promote father-child contact, and decrease children's exposure to interparental conflict and negative divorce events. In addition, two individual sessions are included to tailor parenting skills to each family's needs (Wolchik et al., 2000a, 1993).
Two experimental trials have been conducted on NBP. In the first trial of mothers with children ages 8 to 15, NBP participation resulted in lower child-reported aggression and mother-reported behavior problems at posttest, as compared to randomized, no-treatment controls (Wolchik et al., 1993). Positive program effects were also demonstrated for mother-child relationship quality, effective discipline, exposure to negative events and willingness to change visitation.
A second experimental trial including 240 families with children ages 9 to 12 resulted in similar short-term program effects, as well as a wide array of program benefits six years later, when children were ages 15 to 18 (Wolchik et al., 2000a). Compared to a randomized, self-study control group, children whose mothers participated in NBP demonstrated lower internalizing and externalizing problems at posttest and fewer externalizing behaviors at six-month follow-up. Most important, six years after intervention, the NBP group had lower adolescent externalizing problems, mental disorder symptoms and substance use, as well as higher grade point averages compared to the control group (Plummer et al., unpublished data; Wolchik et al., 2002).
Mediational analyses have suggested that program effects on improvements in maternal discipline and mother-child relationships at posttest accounted for the positive short-term program effects on child adjustment at six-month follow-up (Tein et al., in press). Currently, analyses are being conducted to identify mechanisms that might mediate long-term program effects at the six-year follow-up.