What are the effects of a parent-implemented verbal responsive intervention on preschoolers with externalizing behavior problems?
This research was conducted to assess the impact of a parent-based verbal responsive intervention, aiming to enhance parents’ responsiveness and communication strategies, by way of a sample of parents and their preschool-aged children with a clinical level of externalizing behavior problems. Twenty-one parents received the intervention, consisting of eight 1.5-hour sessions. The study tested the hypothesis that the intervention led to an improvement in parenting variables and a decrease in children’s behavior problems, assessed by a multimethod procedure. The results partially confirmed the prediction, as they showed an enhancement of parents’ responsiveness and parent self-efficacy belief, which are promising findings, but no modifications of negative practices. These effects persisted for 4 months after the intervention. Moreover, a decrease in children’s externalizing behavior problems was reported by parents in a questionnaire, but this was not confirmed by an observational paradigm. This last result seems to show that a parent-implemented verbal responsive intervention is necessary for some children with externalizing behavior difficulties but often insufficient, and has to be part of a multidisciplinary treatment approach.