Does Parental Praise of Positive Behavior Decrease Negative Behavior in Prematurely-born Children with Behavioral Problems?

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Leo Lam
Shari Wade


Record ID: 227

Student Major: Psychology

Project Advisor: Shari Wade

Abstract: Objective: Children born very preterm (VPT; <32 weeks gestation) have increased risk of developing behavioral problems. Parent-child interventions can effectively reduce behavioral issues while improving the parent/child relationship. We recently developed Building Better Brains and Behavior (B4) program to provide parents of VPT children with strategies to maintain a positive parent-child relationship, including labeled praise of desirable behaviors. We hypothesized behavioral problems would decrease, and labeled praise increase and changes in labeled praise and total behavioral problems pre- to post-intervention would be negatively correlated.

Methods: VPT children ages 3-8 with documented behavioral issues were recruited for a pilot trial. Parents completed seven online learning modules and weekly therapy sessions involving live coaching of parent-child playtime. Parents rated their child’s behavior using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) pre- and post-intervention. Trained coders counted total labeled praises in each playtime recording using the Dyadic Parent-Child Interactions Coding System (DPICS).
Results: Eleven children and their parents completed the study. Paired-samples t-tests showed significant labeled praise increase pre- (M=0.27, SD=0.47) to post-intervention (M=4.55, SD=4.01; t(10)=-3.42, p=0.007) but no significant behavior problems reduction pre- (M=59.55, SD=17.82) to post-intervention (M=55.00, SD=12.17; t(10)=1.13, p=0.286) . There was no significant correlation between changes in labeled praise and behavior problems pre- to post-intervention (p=0.901).
Conclusions: Parents used significantly more labeled praise post-intervention, but this was not associated with reduced child behavioral problems. A closer look is needed at specific behavioral problems impacted by the intervention (e.g., inattention, anxiety). Replication is warranted with a larger sample for more conclusive results.


Article Details

Category: Mental Health & Human Behavior
Author Biography

Leo Lam

Student Major: Psychology