The Effects of a Parent Coach on Parents' Acquisition and Implementation of Parenting Skills

Article excerpt

Abstract

This project addressed the need for research in teaching positive parenting skills to parents of children who are noncompliant. Participants in this study were four parents and their noncompliant children. A parent coach assisted each parent in acquiring and implementing the positive parenting skills, which included delivering appropriate "please do" instructions, pre-teaching target skills, delivering "effective praise," implementing "corrective teaching," using self-monitoring strategies, and reinforcing the child's behavior. The parents delivered the instructions to their children in their homes daily. This study measured (a) the parents' learning of the parenting skills and self-management procedures, (b) the parents' implementation and maintenance of the parenting skills and self-management procedures, and (c) the effects of the parents' use of these skills on their children's compliant behavior. A multiple-probe design across parents was used to evaluate the implementation of the parent training and use of the skills. The parents successfully learned and used the skills-based teaching techniques, the reward system, and the self-monitoring strategies. child compliance with parental instruction improved. In addition, the parents' and children's opinions were evaluated to verify the importance of the skills and teaching procedures as a measure of social validity.

Researchers have reported antisocial behavior as the most prevalent of all childhood behavior problems, affecting 3% to 9% of school-aged children in the United States (Bourn, 1993; Hester & Kaiser, 1998; Loeber & Schmaling, 1985; Sprague & Walker, 2000; Walker, Colvin, & Ramsey, 1995). Children who enter school with limited social skills commonly struggle with peer and teacher relationships, and over time the failure to adjust in these areas is correlated with delinquent and criminal behavior as they approach their teenage and adult years (Hester & Kaiser, 1998; Southam-Gerow & Kendall, 1997; Walker et al., 1995). Sprague and Walker (2000) referred to antisocial behavior as a general response class that includes behavior such as noncompliance, aggression, and bullying. It has been suggested that noncompliance is the "keystone" behavior that gradually leads to antisocial acts (Loeber & Schmaling, 1985). Factors that contribute to antisocial behavior in children include divorce, poverty, abuse, socioeconomic i ssues, and child-rearing practices (Hester & Kaiser, 1998; Walker, 1997). However, the predominant variables are parenting practices and coercive family interactions (Patterson, DeBaryshe, & Ramsey, 1989; Patterson, Reid, & Dishion, 1992; Walker et al., 1995). Specifically, coercive parenting practices account for 30% to 40% of the variance in children's levels of antisocial behavior (Patterson et al., 1989; Tolan & McKay, 1996; Walker et al., 1995).

A child who is labeled "antisocial" obviously lacks what society defines as prosocial behavior or social skills. According to the social skills literature, professionals, not parents, typically teach prosocial behaviors to aberrant children (Budd, 1983; Walker et al., 1995). Schools in the United States frequently include programs that attempt to develop social skills in children (Verduyn, Lord, & Forrest, 1990; Zaragoya, Vaughn, & McIntosh, 1991); however, because parent and home conditions are critical to the development of acceptable social behavior, parents must be partners with personnel from schools and other agencies who share a common goal of intervening with antisocial behavior problems (Walker et al., 1995). Almost 20 years ago, Budd (1983) asserted that noticeably absent from the social skills literature was the consideration of parents in the role of teaching social skills to their children, such research is still lacking. Considering that the origins of behavior problems are associated with condi tions in the home and community, it seems logical that the parents become involved in altering their children's behavior. …