Did you ever think that being effective as a parent would actually make you richer in dollars — not just in spirit? Turns out that there just might be a real financial benefit. When your child does not follow rules and routines a difficult life can be even harder. It seems so intuitive that it does not need a research project to prove it. Still, in this time crunched and budget squeezed world finding the time and energy to make changes does require justification.

Recently, Gerry Patterson and his colleagues published data spanning nine years to show that changing parenting behavior reduced child behavior problems and that at the end of nine years mothers had a higher standard of living. Standard of living refers to the mother’s income, job, education, and financial stress. Participants completed the Parent Management Training – Oregon Model (PMTO™).  This program targets five core parenting behaviors: skill encouragement, discipline, monitoring, problem solving, and positive involvement of the parent with the child.  The program is manualized and flexible and it starts from the families strengths. Parents set goals and learn effective ways to give commands and use non-corporal discipline. Therapists describe, model, and practice with parents to help them gain the skills. The program aims to balance parental support and encouragement of the child with effective non-physical non-aggressive (verbal or physical) punishment. Families are also taught communication skills and problem-solving steps for addressing child behavior problems. These are powerful changes to make when a child has already had a significant history of breaking rules, aggressive behavior, and disregard for others. These are not easy behaviors for parents to learn and practice with children who have these problems.

The research team at the Oregon Social Learning Center is an amazing wealth of committed, smart, and passionate clinical researchers. They are constantly monitoring, evaluating, and refining their treatments so that clinicians can use them. In a large body of research they have shown that this program can help step-families, families dealing with military deployment, kids school performance, and mothers depression. The program has been used in Norway and work is being done to increase the participation of Latino fathers in the intervention. Their incredible work shows that changing these core parenting behaviors has powerful and meaningful impact on outcomes for both children and their families. What if these behaviors were present at the start?

Everyone, child or adult, gets frustrated, irritated and angry. People are more likely to feel that way when they do not understand what is happening, feel out of control, and do not feel safe. Monitor yourself today. Have you kept the positive encouragement of your children in balance with the corrective discipline? How often did you criticize or correct? How often did you praise and validate?

Challenge yourself to increase the encouragement. Put twenty pennies or paper clips or beads in you left pocket. Every time you praise your child’s behavior move one object to your right pocket. At the end or the day, how did you do?

What about corrections? How many times did you give your child a command or direction and then do something when the child did not complete the task or command? Most of us nag. This is not discipline. This is annoying. Chances are even in well functioning families, nagging is out weighing discipline and encouragement. See if you can change that. We will all do better!

Kelly M. Champion, PhD.


Here is the study:

Cascading effects following intervention

Gerald R. Patterson,Marion S. Forgatch and David S. DeGarmo (2010).Development and Psychopathology,
Volume 22
, Special Issue 04, November 2010 pp 949-970http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0954579410000568