5.2 Individual programmes
5.3 Parenting Training
Family interventions gained support in recent years as research findings indicate that family and parental behavioural programmes have an overall effectiveness in reducing aggressive behaviour and in preventing and treating CD. Regardless of the different names or structures of a family/parenting programme, Behavioural parenting training is an intervention that trains parents how to interact with children in order to reduce children’s offending behaviour and to increase their social skills and adaptation to social norms. In fact, behavioural parenting training is a psychotherapeutic technique (that parents are taught individually or in a group by a psychologist or a social worker) which uses Operant Conditioning theory. According to this learning theory, behaviour develops and can be changed by focusing on its antecedents and on its consequences. Parents learn to reinforce child’s positive behaviour every time this behaviour occurs and discourage any aggressive action. Also, in some parenting training programmes interventions Observational Learning technique is applied because one learns by observing another individual as a model. Children learn offensive behaviour by observing others; likewise parents learn suitable parenting skills by observing other parents, the specialist or videos during training sessions. Better parenting skills bring an improvement of children’s conduct (Liabo and Richardson 2007, Matthys and Lochman 2017, Bandura 1973).
Out of a great number of behavioural parenting training programmes, studies indicate that certain of them are very effective:
Parent Management Training Oregon (PMTO). After an extensive research on the role of inept child rearing practices that bring child’s aggressiveness, Patterson and his colleagues prepared the first complete parenting programme, the Parent Management Training Oregon (Patterson et al. 1975). Families of referred children with antisocial disorder (aged 3-13 y/o) are seen individually for sessions once a week. The content of these sessions corresponds to the principals of Operant Conditioning and of Observational Learning technique. To train parents the principals reading material is used.
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). It is a highly individualised program developed by Sheila Eyberg for the treatment of children aged 2-7 with Disruptive Behavior Disorders. The main features of PCIT are the participation of both child and parents in all sessions and the coaching by the specialist while parent is playing with the child. So, the specialist shapes parent’s interaction with the child using reinforcement and corrective prompting. Parents are taught skills to foster attachment and relations with the child in weekly sessions for 12-16 weeks (Zisser and Eybeg 2010).
Parent Management Traing (PMT). It is also an individual program for children aged 2-14 y/o which is based on Operant Conditioning. The target is to treat parent’s dysfunction in family. Treatment lasts 12 sessions of 45-60 minutes. PMT aims on parents learning to fuel positive reinforcement (praise, encouragement, rewards) for children’s appropriate behaviours while putting appropriate limits as they remove attention for incorrect actions (Kazdin’s 2005).
Positive Parenting Program (Triple P). Developed in Australia is a parenting intervention which focuses on increasing the knowledge, skills and confidence of parents and preventing emotional, and behavioural problems in children and teens. The program was originally designed for children with first signs of CD and their parents, but nowadays there are several levels of Triple P developed to work together as a broader public health intervention. Triple-P is based on principles of Community Psychology and addresses social contexts that influence parents’ life: TV and internet social media, health care services, child care and school institutions, work sites and religious organizations. Triple-P trains parents how to change parenting style from using ineffective and coercive discipline (physical punishment and shouting) to using effective strategies. Successful strategies include setting rules for specific situations, discussing rules with children, giving clear, calm and age-appropriate directions and requests, and presenting logical consequences, or ignoring on purpose (Sanders et al. 2003).