The peer-reviewed Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning (JRIT&L) has published a Child Trends study describing changes in parental attitudes and behaviors following participation in Conscious Discipline’s Parent Education Curriculum at four Head Start programs.

The 2018 descriptive study featured in the journal demonstrated changed perspectives and new skills among parents, improved parent-child relationships and decreased child behavior problems.

The Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching and Learning publishes top peer-reviewed research on topics in the field of education. Published bi-annually, the journal emphasizes innovations in education that have the potential to considerably improve teaching and learning. JRIT&L utilizes a double-blind peer review model. Articles undergo initial assessment by the journal editor and a minimum of two external reviewers to assess its suitability for publication.

About the Study

In the Child Trends study published in JRIT&L, the research team visited four Head Start sites during the first and final weeks of the seven-week Conscious Discipline Parent Education Curriculum. Parents completed the Attentive Parenting Survey (APS), and the team interviewed parents at both site visits and again six to eight weeks after parenting classes ended. The team also interviewed Head Start directors and teachers of students whose parents attended the program.

Findings indicated improved parenting knowledge and skills at the conclusion of the program.

Results of the Study on Conscious Discipline’s Parent Education Curriculum

Child Trends analyzed the APS data to identify subscales describing changes in parenting among those surveyed. For the Parental Responses and Discipline Methods subscale, parents reported using significantly more positive responses and discipline methods after the classes. There was also a significant change on the Promoting Children’s Social-Emotional Development subscale, where parents reported using more positive emotional development promotion techniques after completing the classes.

Parents reported improvements in managing their emotions and responding to challenging behavior. 75 percent of parents provided one or more examples of using new skills to respond to challenging behavior from their children. Parents felt better prepared to effectively help children cope with their emotions, including using positive alternatives to punitive actions. Parents also reported feeling less stressed and more connected with their children.

Additionally, more than 75 percent of parents noted at least one positive change in their children’s behavior. Most frequently, these changes included increased ability to identify, communicate and manage emotions and behaviors. Head Start staff also observed changes in parenting behavior and some cases of improved behavior among children. The report concludes that with brief training, sites using Conscious Discipline’s general curriculum can implement the Conscious Discipline Parent Education Curriculum to fidelity.

Notably, six to eight weeks after the intervention, parents reported more consistent usage of many Conscious Discipline strategies and skills than immediately after classes concluded. This suggests the sustainability of the information and skills parents learned through the sessions.

Analysis of the Study in JRIT&L

The peer-reviewed research report offers preliminary evidence that addressing the social emotional needs of adults is a viable step toward helping children improve their social skills and emotional regulation. These skills have been strongly correlated with academic and life success.

Conscious Discipline is unique among social emotional learning curricula in its adult first, child second approach. It focuses first on adult skills and learning as a pathway to fostering social emotional competencies and well-being in children. The peer-reviewed study suggests that schools and programs should strive to support social emotional learning for both children and the adults in their lives and that parents are willing to learn and practice these skills.

See the full Child Trends Study