Parent Management Training (PMT) programs train parents to manage their childs behavioral problems in the home and at school. In PMT, parent-child interactions are modified in ways that are designed to promote prosocial child behavior and to decrease antisocial or oppositional behavior.
Treatment sessions include instruction in social learning principles and techniques. The therapist provides a brief overview of underlying concepts, models the techniques for the parents, and coaches parents in implementing the procedures. The PMT therapist details the concepts and procedures derived from positive reinforcement (e.g., contingent delivery of attention, praise, points) and punishment (e.g., time out from reinforcement, loss of privileges, and reprimands). Parents are taught how to use reinforcement and punishment techniques contingent on the childs behavior, to provide consequences consistently, to attend to appropriate behaviors and to ignore inappropriate behaviors, to apply skills in prompting, shaping, and fading, and to use these techniques to manage future problems. There is an extensive amount of practice and shaping of parent behavior within the sessions to develop skills in carrying out the procedures.
Because the immediate goal of treatment is to develop parenting skills, the therapist begins by having parents apply new skills to relatively simple problems (e.g., compliance, completion of chores, oppositional behavior). As parents become proficient using the initial techniques, the childs most serious problem behaviors at home and in school are addressed (e.g., fighting, poor school performance, truancy, stealing, or fire setting). The focus is on getting your children to do what you want by doing certain things before the behavior and then providing praise and award points after the behavior.
It works – it’s not time out, it’s not yelling, it’s not feeling like you are at the end of your rope. But it does take training, and we can help.