A manualized parenting program for low-income families

Michelle LeAnne Anderson, Marquette University


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a manualized parenting intervention with low-income families whose young children are at-risk for developing mental health problems. At-risk families were identified using the Discipline Subscale from the Parent Behavior Checklist (Fox, 1994). The Discipline Subscale was used to measure the frequency of parental use of corporal and verbal punishment with three-to-five year old children. These at-risk parents were then provided with a ten week manualized, cognitive-behavioral intervention which was taught in small group format (2-3 parents per parent educator). The intervention aimed at changing and improving certain parenting behaviors. Specifically, the targeted parent behaviors included the development of appropriate discipline and nurturing strategies as well as setting reasonable, developmentally appropriate goals. Both the parent and the child were evaluated to determine if this intervention successfully changed the parent's and the child's behavior in a positive direction and whether these changes were maintained over time. The study was implemented and evaluated with a two-group wait-list control design with follow-up condition (Kazdin, 1980). The manualized parenting intervention was ten weeks in length and included pre-, post-, and follow-up evaluation components. Eligible families were randomly assigned as they were recruited to either an experimental or wait-list control group using a computer-generated list of random numbers. Following the manualized intervention, there were significant reductions in the Discipline Subscale. Many of the parents were within normal limits in relation to their use of verbal and physical punishment with their child. This seems to indicate that the manualized intervention was successful in reducing higher levels of verbal and physical punishment. Parents also demonstrated significant reductions in: (a) their perception of their child's behavior problems, (b) negative parent/child interactions, and (c) parental anger levels. These results seem to indicate that professionals may need to reconsider the role of parents in both assessment as well as intervention strategies used with children who are at-risk for experiencing mental health problems.

Recommended Citation

Anderson, Michelle LeAnne, "A manualized parenting program for low-income families" (1999). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9929148.