An Evaluation of Best Families, a Parenting Education Intervention Program for Head Start Families: The Effects on Child-rearing Style, Affirming Communication, and Children's Behavior
Robertson-Tchabo, Elizabeth A.
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ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation: AN EVALUATION OF BEST FAMILIES, A PARENTING EDUCATION INTERVENTION PROGRAM FOR HEAD START FAMILIES: THE EFFECTS ON CHILD-REARING STYLE, AFFIRMING COMMUNICATION, AND CHILDREN'S BEHAVIOR. Janet Sang-Blodgett, Ph.D., 2005 Dissertation Directed By: Chair: E.A. Robertson-Tchabo, Ph.D.EDHD The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of parents' participation in the Best Families program on the parents' child rearing style, parent-child communication, and parents' and teachers' ratings of the children's behavior. The Best Families program was a four-week, parenting education program designed specifically for economically disadvantaged parents of 4 - 5 year old children enrolled in early childhood assistance programs in a mid-Atlantic state. Thirty parent volunteers whose children attended a Head Start summer session at one of three Head Start centers participated in the study. Two of the parent participants were fathers, and 28 were mothers. Nineteen of the parents were African American, eight were Hispanic Americans, and three were Caucasian. Nineteen of the participants were parents of boys, and eleven of the participants were parents of girls. The Best Families program included four components: social problem solving, verbalizing emotions, parent-child communication, and utilization of social support. The program was delivered once a week for four consecutive weeks. Participants were directed to apply the skills that had been addressed during the following week and to discuss with the group the relative success of the strategies. Personal interviews were conducted prior to the intervention program and immediately after participation in the parenting education program. A participant's child-rearing style and social problem solving was measured by the Child Rearing Style Interview (Shure, 1998). All but one of the 30 participants moved up the child rearing style continuum in the direction of a social problem solving style. Parent-child communication was measured by the Problem Solving Communication Index (McCubbin, McCubbin, and Thompson, 1988). There was a statistically significant increase in the frequency of affirming communication. Children's behavior was measured by parent and teacher ratings using the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1983). There was a statistically significant reduction in the frequency of externalizing behaviors of both boys and girls as rated both by parents' and by teachers' ratings. The children exhibited fewer aggressive and impulsive behaviors and generally were more compliant.