Parenting programs that teach skills as well as content have been requested by family scientists since the 1980's (Powell, 1988a, 1988b). This paper reports the evaluation outcomes from thirteen classes taught by volunteer parent educators using the Discipline That Doesn't Hurt! parenting series (Ladd, 1995). Data were gathered on 117 parents of whom 41 did not complete the classes. A final sample of 26 males and 46 females did complete the six week brief intervention parenting series aimed at building parent decision-making skills in addressing problem behaviors in their family system. This evaluation analyzed the scores of participants across three levels of problem- solving strategies: linear (one-dimensional), relationship (two-dimensional), and systems (three-dimensional). Parents who typically named one factor or person as the way to resolve the problem behavior were identified as using a linear approach to problem solving. Parents who were identified as using a relationship approach to problem solving typically applied information that involved a relationship between two people or environmental factors. Systems answers included information across three dimensions of the family system such as time of day, noncustodial parent, school experiences, and the child being hungry. This
evaluation found that parents used significantly more complex decision-making strategies at the end of the six week Discipline That Doesn't Hurt! series when pre and post test evaluation scores were compared. These results indicate clearly that parents who completed the six classes did learn to apply more complex decision-making strategies that are based on child development information, parental values, and systems information through a short intervention training course. A second comparison analyzed gender differences on pre and post test scores for the three individual items. Significant differences for gender were found on two of the three evaluation items. No further conclusions could be made in this study, but gender differences will be a focus of future research. This evaluation study supports the use of the Discipline That Doesn't Hurt! parenting series as a brief intervention curriculum to teach more complex problem-solving strategies to parents of children ages one through 14 years old.
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