Oct 24, 2012


Parents and Children Talking Together (PCTT) is a parent training program for parents of children making the transition from childhood to adolescence.  Over seven weeks, the parents learn how to communicate better with their increasingly independent children.  A random assignment evaluation of the program found that it improved conflict resolution skills (communication, problem solving, and positive affect) and helped the parents to set appropriate levels of discipline.  However, one month after the training, the children had not noticed any difference in parenting style, and there was no change in child behavior.  The program was more effective for better educated parents and those of older adolescents (ages 14-16).


Target population: Parents with preadolescent children who have parenting difficulties.

PCTT is a parent training program designed to help parents with the transition to adolescence by training them in effective communication, problem solving, and discipline techniques.  It aims to improve parenting skills and indirectly reduce problem behavior among adolescents.  The goals of the program are acceptance and genuineness of expressed feelings from both parents and children, as well as a hierarchical relationship where parents guide and discipline their children.  Parents are taught to pay attention to their child’s need for a voice in decisions, but still maintain control and discipline when necessary.

The PCTT training consists of seven weekly two–hour meetings, with homework, in groups of no more than 15 parents.


Leijten, P., Overbeek, G., Janssens, J. (2012). Effectiveness of a parent training program in (pre)adolescence: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Adolescence, 35(44), 833-842.

Evaluated population: Seventy-eight parents of children ages nine to sixteen years, recruited from the South-Eastern Netherlands, were randomized into an experimental and a control group.  The parents, mostly mothers, were recruited with advertisements for a seven-week training program for people with parenting difficulties, and all applicants already receiving professional help were excluded from the study.  The families were mainly white (95 percent), middle class (83 percent of parents had completed higher education), two-parent families (77 percent).  On average, while the parents had disciplining problems in the clinical range, child problem behavior was in the normal range.  Only one parent per family was evaluated.

Approach: Families were randomly assigned either to take the PCTT training course or to go to an informational meeting on general parenting issues.  Researchers measured child problem behavior and dysfunctional disciplining behavior, as reported by both the child and the parent.  How the child and parent behaved in conflict, as observed in a five-minute video of their interaction, was also measured. Measurements of conflict behavior included positive and negative affect (positivity and negativity of body language and tone), dominance (control or influence over others), problem-solving skills, and communication skills. Baseline measurements were collected less than a month before the parents started the training, while post-test measurements were collected within a month after the last session of the training (between nine and fifteen weeks after the pre-test).  On average, parents attended six sessions out of seven, but those who missed were phoned by the trainer and given an overview of what they had missed and the homework assignment. Baseline equivalence was established for the treatment and control groups.

Results: PCTT had a positive impact on parent problem solving, communication skills, positive affect, and problematic dominance towards children.  PCTT also had an impact on parent- reported dysfunctional disciplining behavior, though no impact was found in child-reported dysfunctional disciplining behavior. There was no significant impact on any type of child problem behavior, though that may be expected in such a short-term study.

There was a greater impact on communication skills for parents with higher education.  The largest decrease in dominance was found for parents of children ages 14 to 16.  Parents of girls experienced greater improvement in problem solving skills, while parents of boys experienced greater improvement in communication skills, though no difference was found in child behavior.



Leijten, P., Overbeek, G., Janssens, J. (2012). Effectiveness of a parent training program in (pre)adolescence: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Adolescence, 35(44), 833-842. 10.1016/j.adolescence.2011.11.009

Contact Information

Patty Leijten

Department of Developmental Psychology

Utrecht University

Heidelberglaan 1

3584 CS Utrecht

The Netherlands

31 30 253-9473

KEYWORDS: Children, Adolescents, Youth, Males and Females, Community-based, Parent or Family Component, Parent Training/Education, Skills Training, Parent-Child Relationship, Conduct/Disruptive Disorders, Social Skills/Life Skills Aggression, Bullying, Delinquency, Other Behavioral Problems

Program information last updated on 10/24/2012.