Common Sense Parenting

Program Goals/Program Theory
Common Sense Parenting© (CSP) is a group-based parent-training class designed for parents of youths aged 6–16 who exhibit significant behavior and emotional problems. The objective of the program is to teach positive parenting techniques and behavior management strategies to help increase positive behavior, decrease negative behavior, and model appropriate alternative behavior for children.

CSP was adapted from the Teaching Family Model and the Boys Town Family Home Program (known as Treatment Family Home Program), both of which draw from operant learning principles (i.e., positive and negative reinforcement, stimulus control) and Social Learning Theory (i.e., modeling, training in self-instruction). In both programs, married couples were trained to use behavior methods to respond to conduct problems of children and adolescents in group-home settings. The behavioral treatment model emphasized positive relationships, skills training, and self-control. During the development of CSP, the parenting skills from these approaches were adapted and simplified for use by parents in their own homes.

Program Components
The program consists of six weekly 2-hour sessions involving a group of 10–12 parents led by certified trainers who work from a detailed trainer’s manual. The session topics are (1) “Parents Are Teachers,” (2) “Encouraging Good Behavior,” (3) “Preventing Problems,” (4) “Correcting Problem Behavior,” (5) “Teaching Self-Control,” and (6) “Putting It All Together.”

Program participants work from a parent manual that provides information on CSP skills, parenting advice, scenarios, skill cards for quick reference, and a personal parenting plan workbook. Between class sessions, participants are assigned readings from the parent manual and homework activities from the workbook to supplement the training received in class and help parents become more familiar with the newly taught skills.

CSP classes concentrate on experiential learning and consist of five training components—review, instruction, modeling, practice, and feedback—and conclude with a summary. Each session is designed to teach one parenting concept and a skill related to that concept. During each training session, parents review the skills learned during the previous session, receive instruction in a new parenting skill, view videotaped models of the new skill, practice how to use the skill in simulated role-play, and receive feedback from the trainer. Parenting skills and techniques are taught to parents for adaptation in any home environment. Parents learn skills such as the use of clear communication, positive reinforcements and consequences, self-control, and problem solving.

Intervention ID

2 to 17


Study 1
Externalizing Behaviors
The analysis by Thompson, Ruma, Schuchmann, and Burke (1996) found significant posttreatment effects for measures of externalizing behaviors. The outcome measures showed that parents who completed the Common Sense Parenting© (CSP) training reported significantly greater improvement in externalizing child problems, such as delinquent and aggressive behavior, compared with the waitlist control (WLC) parents.

Internalizing Behaviors
There were no statistically significant treatment effects found for internalizing problem behavior, such as depression or anxiety.

There were significant posttreatment effects for measures of satisfaction on the Parent Sense of Competence Scale (PSOC). Parents who completed the CSP training reported significantly greater improvements on measures of satisfaction compared with WLC parents.

There were significant pre-post treatment effects for measures of efficacy on the PSOC. Parents who completed the CSP training reported significantly greater improvements on measures of efficacy compared with WLC parents.

Family Satisfaction
The results showed that parents who completed the CSP training reported significantly greater improvement in their satisfaction with family relationships than the parents in the WLC group, but this treatment effect was confounded by parenting status (meaning parents from two-parent households were more likely to report satisfaction with family relationships than single parents). Single parents may not have been as likely to report improvements in their adult relationships within their family after parent training, but the results showed that single parents who completed the training were just as likely as married parents to report improvements in parenting attitudes (i.e., satisfaction and efficacy).

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