Guiding Good Choices

Program Goals

Guiding Good Choices (GGC) promotes healthy, protective parent–child interactions and addresses children’s risk for early substance use.

Target Population

The program targets families of children in grades 4–8 (ages 9–14).

Program Activities

GGC is a multimedia family-competency training program. The program is delivered in five weekly sessions specifically designed to strengthen parents’ family management skills, parent–child bonding, and children’s peer-resistance skills. Children are required to attend one session, which concentrates on peer pressure. The other four sessions involve only parents and include instruction in four areas:

  • Identifying risk factors for adolescent substance use and creating strategies to enhance the family’s protective processes
  • Developing effective parenting skills, particularly those regarding substance use issues
  • Managing anger and family conflict
  • Providing opportunities for positive child involvement in family activities

Program Theory

GGC is based on the social development model, which theorizes that enhancing protective factors, such as prosocial bonding to family, school, peers and establishing clear standards or norms for behavior will decrease the likelihood that children will engage in problem behaviors.

Intervention ID

9 to 14


Study 1

Proactive Communication

Kosterman and colleagues (1997) found significant positive effects of the interaction on proactive communication. Mothers showed statistically significant increases in general family interactions, and mothers and fathers showed statistically significant increases in problem-solving interactions.

Negative Interactions with Children

The study found decreased negative interactions between mothers and their children. This effect was statistically significant. Although the fathers in the treatment group showed fewer negative interaction practices with their children than did fathers in the control group, the differences were not statistically significant.

Relationship Quality

The control group showed moderate improvements in relationship quality. For this dimension, only fathers in the treatment group demonstrated statistically significant improvements in their quality of relationship with their child during the problem-solving task. Mothers in the treatment group showed a higher quality of relationship during the general interaction task, but this difference from the control group mothers only approached significance.

Study 2

Initiation of substance use

Spoth and colleagues’ (1999) evaluation demonstrated positive effects for intervention parents and children. Compared with members of a control group, adolescents in the treatment group who had not initiated substance use by the 1-year follow-up were significantly less likely to have initiated use at the 2-year follow-up.

Progression in substance use

Adolescents in the treatment group who had initiated substance use by the 1-year follow-up were also significantly more likely than control group youths to have remained at their 1-year substance use status.

Study 3

Substance Use

Spoth and colleagues (2009) found that the intervention prevented significant numbers of individuals from engaging in problematic young adult substance use. Specifically, GGC could have prevented an estimated 9 percent of control group individuals from engaging in drunkenness, 11 percent from experiencing alcohol-related problems and cigarette use, and 16 percent from engaging in illicit drug use.

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