When parents of middle school students participate in school-based, family interventions, it can reduce problem behavior, according to new research released online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
The transition to adolescence can be particularly challenging, as during this period, children are more likely to engage in potentially harmful behavior with their peers while having less monitoring from and communication with their parents. The researchers were interested in whether an intervention called the Family Check-Up (FCU)—a short program that provides feedback and skill training for parents—could mitigate some of the troubles many parents and teens face. "We hypothesized that we would find significant intervention effects on all four outcomes—family conflict, parental monitoring, antisocial behavior and alcohol use," said Mark J. Van Ryzin, Ph.D., of the University of Oregon and lead author of the study. "We were pleased that these hypotheses were confirmed."
Van Ryzin and his colleagues followed 593 seventh and eighth graders and their families in a randomized controlled trial, with families assigned either to participate in the FCU program or to a control group of "school as usual" students at three public schools in the Pacific Northwest. The researchers gathered data primarily from students' self-reports to provide a broad assessment of family interaction. Researchers also videotaped parents interacting with their teens at home and school. Both parents and teens received comprehensive feedback about their interaction with each other.
One of the program's strengths is its short duration. "The average participating family only received about 4 and half hours of intervention time," said Van Ryzin.