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Teaching parents behaviour modification principles and techniques Kuchenmuller, Manfred D.

Abstract

Involving parents as change agents for their children is an important step towards a more comprehensive model in the treatment and prevention of juvenile delinquency. This study investigates the effectiveness of using parents as behaviour modifiers of their delinquent children. The research questions explored are the following; firstly, will parents benefit from the learning of behaviour modification techniques; secondly, will parents generalize their knowledge of these techniques to other problem situations; thirdly, is there an inverse relationship between parent understanding of behaviour modification techniques and child problem behaviours; fourthly, will children whose behaviour has been modified commit fewer delinquencies. The subjects were 13 adjudged delinquent boys and girls and their parents who volunteered to take part in the program. A randomized before and after experimental and control group design was used, with seven subjects in the experimental and six in the control group. Under the guidance of a student clinician parents were instructed, during the six month intervention phase, in operant behaviour modification principles and techniques required for the modification of targeted problem behaviours. Parents were responsible for identifying, collecting baseline and intervention data, and recording problem behaviours. They were also responsible for the carrying out the modification process through contingency contracting, and generally rewarding positive and ignoring negative behaviours. If the parents carried out these duties they were paid $20 per week. Parent learning of behaviour modification techniques was measured on a 50 question multiple choice child problem situation questionnaire developed for this study. Behaviour change was measured on the Walker Problem Behaviour Identification Checklist, a Problem Checklist and a Behaviour Checklist. The latter two were developed for this study. The Problem Checklist was constructed on a binomial yes, no basis and sets out 30 child problem behaviours. The Behaviour Checklist was constructed on a four point behaviour differential scale and covered 23 positive and negative behaviours. All questionnaires were completed by the parent implementing the behaviour change program.

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