Summary Evaluations of the
Exploring Together Primary School Program
studies of the effectiveness of the Exploring Together Program have been
conducted (Littlefield, L., Burke, S., Trinder, M., Woolcock, C., Story,
K., Wilby, A., Falconer, B., Dunkley, T. (2000). Hemphill, S.A. &
Littlefield, L (2001). In the Hemphill, S.A. & Littlefield, L, 2001
study, a total of 106 parent-child dyads from Victoria were studied. The
Littlefield et al (2000) study comprised 149 parent-child dyads from across
One hundred and six
dyads completed the Exploring Together Program and 39 dyads comprised
the control group. Multiple outcome measures were administered to the
children and parents participating in the program, as well as to the childrens
classroom teachers, to estimate the treatment effects of the program.
Measures of childrens behaviour problems and social skills, parenting
behaviour, parental depression, and participant satisfaction with the
program were included in the study. Parents were also asked to complete
questionnaires at 6- and 12-months follow-up. The parents of control group
children completed an abbreviated version of the questionnaire package
that comprised of measures of childrens behaviour problems and social
skills, as well as demographic information. The teachers of the control
group children completed the Teachers Report Form of the Achenbach
Child Behaviour Checklist.
The results showed statistically significant improvements in a number
of areas including the childrens behaviour, parenting skills, parent-child
interaction, and parents characteristics.
The reported changes in the childrens behaviour included:
- Statistically significant
decreases in childrens anxiety/depression, social problems, attention
problems, delinquent behaviour and aggressive behaviour at home. At
a broader level this involved significant decreases in childrens
internalising and externalising behaviours and overall behaviour problems
at home, relative to those of a control group.
- The maintenance
of post-treatment gains in childrens anxiety and depression, social
problems, attention problems, delinquent behaviour, and aggressive behaviour
at home at 6-month follow-up. At a broader level this involved maintenance
of significant gains in childrens externalising behaviours and
overall behaviour problems at home at 6-month follow-up. In addition,
further gains were achieved in childrens internalising behaviour
at home at 6-month follow-up.
- The decrease in
childrens anxiety and depression, social problems, attention problems,
delinquent behaviour, and aggressive behaviour at home were maintained
at 12-month follow-up. At a broader level, improvements in childrens
internalising behaviour, externalising behaviour, and overall behaviour
problems at home were also maintained at 12 month follow-up.
- Statistically significant
improvements in childrens parent-reported social skills from pre-
to post treatment, and maintenance of these gains at 6 and 12 month
The results showed
that parents used more limit-setting, were less permissive of aggression,
and used less control through emotion. There was a decrease in parental
depression and an improvement in parent-child interactions. The latter
included improvements in parent/child communication, parents feeling more
capable as child-rearers, the children behaving age-appropriately, and
improvements in the parents and childrens understanding of
each other, and of their thoughts and feelings toward each other. Finally,
the qualitative feedback from participants was positive. The program was
conducted in a way that was acceptable to both the children and their
In the National study,
(Littlefield et al., 2000), a total of 149 families throughout Australia
participated in programs run by recently trained leaders. Measures of
childrens behaviour problems and self-concept, parenting styles,
and participant satisfaction with the program were included in the evaluation
of these Programs. Measures were completed by participating parents, children,
and teachers of the children included in the groups.
Statistically significant improvements were reported in a number of areas
including the childrens behaviour, and some parenting skills. The
reported changes in the childrens behaviour included
- Significant decreases
in childrens anxiety/depression, delinquent and aggressive behaviour,
withdrawn behaviour, somatic problems and social problems both at home
and at school.
- Significant improvements
in childrens attention at school
- Significant decreases
in childrens internalising and externalising behaviours and overall
behaviour problems at home and at school.
- Significant improvement
in childrens overall self-concept after participation in the 10-week
Exploring Together Program.
Changes in parent
- Significant reduction
in the dysfunctional parenting practices of overreactivity and verbosity.
More specifically, after the program parents were less inclined to overreact
to perceived misbehaviour in their children and instead were more inclined
to use appropriate consequences. After the group, parents were also
less likely to over-use commands when trying to manage their childrens
satisfaction reports were extremely positive, with the vast majority of
the parents reporting a positive overall feeling about the program (94.1%).
Eighty nine percent of parents reported being satisfied with their childs
progress, and 86.8% reported improvements in the major problems that originally
prompted them to begin the program. A majority of parents also reported
an improvement in the childs problems that were not focussed on
in the group (45.4%) as well as with other general personal or family
problems not directly related to their child (79.2%). The children reported
similar positive impressions of the 10-week Exploring Together Program.
In general, the majority of children liked coming to the group and felt
that the group helped them. A total of 73.1% of the children felt that
the leaders helped them a significant amount.
Littlefield, L., Burke,
S., Trinder, M., Woolcock, C., Story, K., Wilby, A., Falconer, B., Dunkley,
T. (2000). Exploring Together Program Final Internal Evaluation Report.
The Department of Health and Aged Care under its Supporting Families:
National Parenting Initiative. Unpublished report.
S.A. & Littlefield, L (2001). Evaluation of a short-term group
therapy program for children with behaviour problems and their parents.
Behaviour Researach and Therapy 39, 823-841