Spring/Summer 2018 descriptive study of the Conscious Discipline Parenting Education Curriculum conducted by Child Trends


This descriptive study by Child Trends measured the effects of the Conscious Discipline Parenting Education Curriculum (PEC) at four Head Start programs. The research team visited each site during the first and last week of the program. During both visits, parents completed the Attentive Parenting Survey (APS). Additionally, the team interviewed 19 parents during the site visits, and again six to eight weeks following the end of the parenting classes. The team also interviewed Head Start directors, PEC trainers, and teachers of the children whose parents attended classes.

The study explored:

  • Whether programs implemented the curriculum with fidelity
  • Programs’ and parents’ experience with Conscious Discipline Parenting Education Curriculum implementation
  • The curriculum’s association with improved parenting skills, parent-child relationships, and child behavior and emotion management


The research study indicated the following outcomes for children and families:

  • Parents increasingly reported the use of Conscious Discipline skills and strategies to address challenging behaviors. Over time, more parents reported implementing Conscious Discipline strategies. Six to eight weeks after the intervention, parents continued to expand their use of these skills, using them more consistently than immediately after classes concluded. The most frequently reported new skills were focused breathing, offering two positive choices and promoting parent-child connection through I Love You Rituals.
  • Parents reported improved parenting knowledge and skills. After the seven-week course, 14 of the 49 items on the Attentive Parenting Survey showed statistically significant improvements. For instance, parents reported that they were less likely to raise their voices in frustration, more likely to encourage children to share their feelings, and less likely to feel overwhelmed by parenting responsibilities.
  • Parents reported improvements in managing their own emotions and in responding to challenging behaviors. About 3/4 of parents surveyed reported one or more examples of using new skills to respond to challenging behaviors (e.g., staying calm and communicating rather than punishing). More than half reported improvements in regulating their own emotions and in communication with their children.
  • Parents reported improvements to children’s emotional management and behavior. More than 3/4 of parents reported at least one positive change in their child’s behavior. Most frequently, these reported changes involved children being better able to identify, communicate and manage their emotions. A majority of parents attributed some or all of these improvements to the Conscious Discipline Parenting Education Curriculum classes.

Child Trends found that 3/4 of the Head Start programs implemented the curriculum with fidelity. Program directors and teachers reported improved relationships with parents that attended the classes. Some directors and parents reported a positive change in the school-home connection. These changes included sharing activities between school and home, as well as a better understanding of Conscious Discipline and the benefits of consistent implementation across both settings.

Parents reported feeling happier, less frustrated and more interested in connecting with their children. 100 percent of parents and trainers interviewed said they would recommend or had already recommended Conscious Discipline’s Parenting Education Curriculum to others. Additionally, 100 percent of program directors said the curriculum was worth the investment and they would offer the parenting series again in the future.

Read the full Child Trends report here