Academic journal article Fathering

A Pilot Study with the Incredible Years Parenting Training: Does It Work for Fathers of Preschoolers with Oppositional Behavior Symptoms?

Academic journal article Fathering

A Pilot Study with the Incredible Years Parenting Training: Does It Work for Fathers of Preschoolers with Oppositional Behavior Symptoms?

Article excerpt

There is lack of research on the importance of including fathers in parent training programs. This study's' main purpose is to examine the short-term effects of fathers attending an Incredible Years Parent Training (IY) for Portuguese preschoolers with oppositional/defiant symptoms. Thirty-six children (whose fathers were willing to attend a parenting group with their wives or partners) were randomly assigned either to receive the IY Program or to a waiting-list control group. Outcomes for the study included self-reported parenting-related variables and parents' ratings of their children's behaviors. Data were collected before the intervention and six months after it. Results showed significant effects on fathers' positive parenting practices and ratings of children's prosocial behaviors, as well as a reduction of the impact of symptoms on family functioning. Findings provided support for the short-term effectiveness of the IY intervention in Portuguese fathers of preschoolers with oppositional symptoms.

Keywords', fathers, Incredible Years Parenting Program, preschoolers, oppositional symptoms


Over the last two decades, there has been a growing societal and academic interest in the role that fathers play in family and child well-being (Bronte-Tinkwe, Burkhauser, & Metz, 2012; Flouri, 2010). In fact, time that fathers spend taking care of their children has risen significantly (Coy 1-Shepherd, & Newland, 2013), and their importance in child development has been well documented in different studies (for a review see Lamb, 2010). Furthermore, the Council of Europe (2006) specifically states in its recommendations on positive parenting that "particular attention should be paid to the important role of fathers in the care and rearing of their children (...)".

When working with children with externalizing behavioral disorders, there are several theoretical and empirical reasons for targeting fathers. First, fathers with limited parenting skills are less likely to encourage treatment and more likely to have children who do not respond well to treatment (Chronis, Chacko, Fabiano, Wymbs, & Pelham, 2004). Second, fathers who are positively involved with their children have children with fewer mother-reported behavior problems (Amato, & Rivera, 1999). Third, like mothers, fathers experience distress and emotional reactivity when dealing with difficult children and do not necessarily have the skills to address such concerns (Lamb, 2010). Additionally, fathers contribute to many aspects' development, including emotional regulation, social cognition, attention, and academic achievement (Cowan, Cowan, Pruett, Pruett, & Wong, 2009; Parke et al., 2002). Also, a father's positive relationship with his children plays a protective role in preventing child abuse and neglect and from the negative effects of a mother's depression (Cowan et al., 2009). Finally, some studies (for a revision see Spoth, Redmond, Hockday, & Shin, 1996) show that fathers' unwillingness to participate in family interventions may adversely influence other family members' participation in such interventions.

Despite the benefits for the child and the family of promoting healthy father-child relationships and involving fathers in children's lives, little attention has been paid to the effect of parenting programs on fathers (Fabiano et al., 2012), and most parent training studies have focused on outcomes related to mothers (Bor, Sanders, & Markie-Dadds., 2002; Gardner, Ward, Wilson, & Burton, 2003; Hutchings & Gardner, 2012). Recently, Tiano and McNeil (2005) found that fathers were not included in most studies on behavioral parent training for children with behavior externalizing disorders, despite the almost universal assumption amongst clinicians that including fathers will improve treatment outcomes. Indeed, there are studies (e.g., Bagner & Eyberg, 2003; Webster-Stratton, 1985) that have reported the importance of fathers' contributions in behavioral parent training, namely in helping to maintain behavior changes achieved by mothers and children. …

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