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Psychoeducational Interventions for
Disruptive Preschoolers
Early screening to identify children with behavioral and emotional problems is becoming widespread. But what should be done when such problems are identified? Russell Barkley and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Worcester Public Schools tested the following 4 intervention conditions for preschoolers identified as aggressive, hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive: (1) no treatment; (2) parent training; (3) full-day classroom treatment; (4) both parent training and classroom treatment. The children were assessed prior to the treatment conditions and again after all treatments were completed, 9 months later. The pre- and post-treatment assessments included the CBCL/4-18 completed by parents, the TRF completed by teachers, and the Direct Observation Form (DOF) completed by classroom observers. The results showed highly significant decreases in Attention Problems and Aggressive Behavior scores on the TRF and in Externalizing scores on the DOF for the two groups that received the classroom treatments. The groups that received no treatment or parent training without the classroom treatment showed no significant improvements on any of a variety of measures. No measures of home behavior showed significant improvement. Barkley et al. concluded that the intensive, full-day classroom treatment was "far more effective" than parent training, but that the effects were specific to school behavior. A likely obstacle to the effectiveness of parent training was the parents' poor attendance at training sessions. The findings thus indicate that interventions can significantly reduce disruptive behavior among children screened at entry into kindergarten. However, interventions need to be carefully targeted and thoroughly implemented, and effects need to be documented via multiple sources of data.

Reference: Barkley, R.A., Shelton, T.L., Crosswait, C., Moorehouse, M., Fletcher, K., Barrett, S., Jenkins, L., & Metevia, L. (2000). Multi-method psycho-educational intervention for preschool children with disruptive behavior: Preliminary results at post-treatment. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 41, 319-332.

Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Achenbach