197237 Kidsteps: Primary prevention of early childhood behavior problems

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 4:30 PM

Carole Upshur, EdD , Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA
Melodie Wenz Gross, PhD , Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA
Kidsteps is an NIMH- funded primary prevention project designed to promote social/emotional development in 3-5 year olds enrolled in preschool classrooms. The intervention trains teachers to deliver a curriculum, called Second Step, for a few minutes each day and to reinforce positive social/emotional skills. The Project was developed in response to the increasing rates at which young children were being expelled from child care programs due to out of control behavior problems. Data were collected from consented families in four urban child care centers serving socioeconomically and ethnically diverse populations. Sites were randomly assigned to intervention and control conditions and independent observers were used to document teacher's skills and rates of classroom disruptive behavior. Teachers also used a standardized scale to identify rates of externalizing behavior problem. The overall rate of problem behaviors reaching the scale cut off was high, 27% of all children. Teacher-rated behavior problems were associated with gender (male), lower family income, but not ethnicity, unmarried parents, poorer overall rated child health status, and a sibling with behavior problems. After the first year of intervention, all sites showed increasing child disruptive behavior as measured by independent observations, but control centers had a trend toward poorer staff-child interactions. Intervention classrooms also showed increased teacher discipline skills, and increases in quality of child interactions with each other, while control classrooms showed a decrease. Early results of this study suggest important ways in which preschool curricula specifically addressing early childhood behavior and social/emotional development may prevent future externalizing behavior problems.

Learning Objectives:
1)Describe the prevalence and correlates of early childhood behavior problems in preschool settings. 2)Assess the potential of primary prevention curricula to reduce the prevalence of preschool behavior problems.

Keywords: Child/Adolescent Mental Health, Intervention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Doctoral level training and numerous peer reviewed publications. Appointment at the level of Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health. Licensed Psychologist.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.